Gold Coast Budget Blow Out.
The Gold Coast City Council debt will blow out by $390m in the next five years as new roads, light rail extensions, and facilities are built to cater for a population boom and the Olympics.
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A Gold Coast City councillor is enraged that the city must spend $12 million to subsidise state public transportation in the city’s rapidly expanding northern suburbs.
The state government, on the other hand, claims that the state’s second-largest council is large enough to go it alone if it “genuinely believes it is a high priority.”
Council’s annual report 2021-22, released as part of Wednesday’s budget, reveals that the city is “subsidising bus services in the northern Gold Coast to improve accessibility” for the first time.
When asked about council funding for public transportation, Deputy Mayor Donna Gates couldn’t hide her disappointment.
“As a council, we have committed $12 million over the next four years for rapid bus services in the northern Gold Coast,” Cr Gates said.
“We did that after our officers met with the state and learned that they might match that $12 million with $12 million in state funding.
“It was our first commitment for public transportation other than light rail, at $12 million over four years, and we have yet to see the state match that funding.”
After a report confirmed the northern bus services were “lousy,” councillors agreed to the public transportation upgrade in April.
Buses run every eight minutes between Broadbeach south and Tweed Heads, and every 15 minutes between Helensvale and The Spit and Broadbeach and Robina train station.
Some of these buses run from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. In the north, only eight routes operate across three corridors between Helensvale and Pimpama. There are as few as four weekend services.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey reacted angrily to the council’s claim that it was forced to do the heavy lifting for the bus route.
“As Queensland’s second-largest council, the Gold Coast City Council is certainly in a position to fully fund this initiative if they genuinely believe it is a high priority,”
Covid-19 has seen a significant drop in public transportation patronage, which must be considered when deciding where to invest in new services.
“Over the past few years, the Palaszczuk government and Gold Coast Council have worked well together to deliver better transportation for the Gold Coast, and we will continue to do so for its growing northern communities.”
GOLD COAST CITY COUNCIL’S debt will rise by $390 million over the next five years as new roads, light rail extensions, and facilities are built to accommodate a population boom and the Olympics.
According to the city council’s annual plan 2021-22, the city is “focused on responsibly managing debt in the short and long term,” but it must deliver several major infrastructure projects to alleviate traffic congestion.
The debt will rise from $604 million in June 2020 to $894 million in June 2025.
“Debt is then projected to fall back to $737 million by June 2032,” according to the council plan.
Despite the debt increase, the annual cost of servicing it is “forecast to remain fairly steady,” rising from $110 million in 2021-22 to $113 million in 2023-24.
The council has new borrowings of $131 million for 2021-22, which accounts for about 21% of the total capital works programme of $627 million.
Total debt will rise by $51 million in 2021-22, reaching $689 million by June of next year, after principal repayments of $80 million.