Planning for the future
According to Western Downs Regional Councillor Ian Rasmussen, “ unless you dream big and have bold plans, you won’t achieve big things.”
It has been four years since Councillor Rasmussen made a bold statement that Council could, and should, pay out their debts of over $62 million.
“With the debt now paid out, council is saving millions of dollars in interest payments each year and has resulted in council being able to return this money into our communities,” Cr Rasmussen said.
“This includes improvements to street scapes in many of our towns, massive community tree planting programs, repairs and updates to our swimming pools and increased activities and facilities for our youth.”
Cr Rasmussen is proud to be apart of the Western Downs region and loves to hear continuous feedback about the outstanding amenities the regions has.
“It’s a wonderful thing that every time we have visitors they comment on the magnificent Chinchilla parklands, the fantastic public facilities such as our libraries and cinemas, and our amazing events and festivals, many of which are run by dedicated and proud community members.”
“Council spends $40 million each year maintaining and improving our 9310km of road across the region,” Cr Rasmussen said.
“It is commendable that most community members realise the enormity of the task and appreciate the work and dedication that council staff put in, especially after weather events which create road damage.
“It is our road network which is so important to our liveability and our connectivity.”
Going forward, Cr Rasmussen has a lot of goals for the future of the region including protecting ratepayers from any excessive rate rises and to boost local and regional economies.
“The challenge is always for a council to offer the best services they can with the money they have available.
“This sounds simple but it is always a delicate balancing act, the balance can be thrown out very quickly when there are shocks to our economy such as floods, bushfires or a financial crisis.”
Cr Rasmussen proposes a rates protection fund, that would be exercised to protect any large rate rises.
“Investing in excess funds which can be drawn upon to supplement the budget when needed, may be one way to offset declining federal government funding and shocks to our economy.”
“A focus also needs to be on attracting investment and business to the Western Downs region.
“Not only will it create employment, it will also help to boost our economy through increased money flow to our local businesses.
“A growing economy means better education facilities for our kids, better healthcare provision, more jobs and training opportunities for our youth and better facilities in our communities.”
With his eye on the next term of council, Cr Rasmussen is hopeful for an enthusiastic team. “The ultimate outcome for our region is to have a bunch of councillors who are passionate, committed and who can work together as a team with our staff, to steer our communities into a bright future.”