Budget 2020-21 plots a path to recovery

A record $181 million capital works program headlines Cairns Regional Council’s 2020-21 Budget.

In adopting today’s $312 million Budget, Council has endorsed a modest 1.8 per cent rate rise in recognition of the current crisis.

In his address, Mayor Bob Manning said that this was a Budget, which considered the need for immediate and needed stimulus, while not overburdening ratepayers.

“This Budget looks not only to this financial year, or to the next couple of years, but to the long-term future of our city – it is a fiscally appropriate response to the coronavirus crisis,” Cr Manning said.

Cr Manning said in response to the coronavirus crisis, Council had acted by extending the time ratepayers had to pay rates and established the Financial Hardship Policy to them enter into long-term payment plans without the impost of interest charges.

There has been assistance for businesses through the acceleration of funding for the tourism and international education sectors, and the waiving of a number of basic fees and charges.

Council has also deferred the planned 20 cents/hour increase for city parking for 12 months and waived rental payments for commercial lessees of Council owned and/or managed facilities negatively impacted by the coronavirus until the end of this calendar year.

“This will result in a short-term cash impact for Council, which will require the organisation to take on the burden of additional short-term debt,” Cr Manning said.

“However, by adhering to our fiscal principles and implementing the three-year plan to recovery, Council’s long-term debt position will not be impacted.”

Council has formulated a three-year plan to coronavirus recovery, which includes Budget deficits this financial year and the next, before returning to a balanced Budget in 2022/23.

“While we were able to keep the rate rise around CPI this year – the seventh consecutive year of rate rises at or around CPI – the three-year recovery plan indicates we will require rate rises of 2.8 per cent in the next two financial cycles,” Cr Manning said.

“Of course, the organisation will endeavour to find more operating efficiencies with a view to reducing these proposed rate rises. In other words, the 2.8 per cent is not a given and we will strive to keep the increase as low as we can.”

Across the next 12 months, Council will spend $396 million in the community through materials and services associated with delivering capital works, maintenance, renewals and other services.

Council has also allocated $42.5 million on maintaining Council’s 577 parks and nature areas; 500 kilometres of sealed footpaths; more than 100 connecting footbridges; 800 litter bins; and 65 toilet blocks.

“Council has many assets, from footpaths to walking tracks, playgrounds to toilet blocks, and it is pertinent that we invest in their ongoing upkeep,” Cr Manning said.

This year’s Capital Works program features $28.7 million to complete the Esplanade Dining Precinct, Lagoon Plaza and Shields St (Stage 3), $10.9 to progress the Northern Beaches Leisure Trail, and $10.7 million to complete the Cairns Materials Recovery Facility upgrade.


  • Council has delivered a Budget with a total operating expenditure of $312 million

Rate Rise

  • General rate increase of 1.8%
  • Utility access charges increase by 1.8%
  • Water usage charges increase by 2c/kilolitre
  • No revaluations or rating category changes means all ratepayers will receive the same 1.8% increase

Broad Capital Works Program

  • Total Capital Works Program worth $181 million
  • $28.7m to complete Cairns Esplanade Dining Precinct
  • $61m on water, waste and sewerage infrastructure
  • $43.5m on roads and transport infrastructure
  • $23.2m on sporting and recreation infrastructure
  • $10.9m to progress Northern Beaches Leisure Trail

Stimulating the Economy

  • $396m will be spent in the community on resources, materials and services
  • $3.2m in grants, subsidies and contributions for events, arts and cultural initiatives activities, marketing and economic development activities
  • $2.9m million for Tourism Tropical North Queensland
  • $645,000 for major sporting events


Multiple items listed within the Cairns Regional Council budget are funded in part by external grant streams via the Queensland and Australian Governments.

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