LIVE COVERAGE: Rates rebate adopted in budget

10.40AM: The budget meeting has now closed.

10.33AM: Cr Seymour said this was the first budget since he joined the council in 2012 that a deficit had been forecast.

He said the overall budget spend represented over $300 million.

10.32AM: Councillor Denis Chapman is now speaking, thanking the councillors and council staff for their work on preparing the budget.

"We're moving forward," he said.

"A $138 million budget is nothing to sneeze about."

10.30AM: Councillor David Lee is now addressing the meeting on what he described as a "strong and sound budget".

"Council entered the COVID-19 pandemic in a strong and resilient financial position," Cr Lee said.

He said the council's "extraordinary" $138 million capital works spend would get the Fraser Coast's economy moving again.

Rates will generally increase by 3 per cent, he said, with a $100 rebate for owner-occupiers on the July rates notice.

10.15AM: The meeting has moved to the formal presentation of budget policies.

10.12AM: Cr Seymour has concluded his opening address by thanking his colleagues for rising to the challenges of coronavirus.

He said this budget was about building better communities and stimulating our local economy.

10.10AM: Cr George Seymour says the budget will include a $100 COVID-19 rates rebate.

The council will also be freezing the minimum rates and extending rates capping policy.  

Three quarters of ratepayers will pay the same general rates as last year, or less, he said.

The council's capital works budget for this financial year will be $138 million, Cr Seymour said.

He outlined a list of planned projects, including major works in the region's cities as well upgrade in small outlying towns.

For example, he said the residents of Doongul could expect a bridge upgrade.

More information on capital works plans to come.

10.05AM: Mayor George Seymour has opened the meeting by acknowledging the traditional Butchulla land owners.

He has described the budget as "an unprecedented budget to unprecedented times".

"2020 will always be known as the year of coronavirus," he said.

"We will never forget how the virus has changed our daily lives.

"Every part of society has felt the economic impacts of COVID-19

He said the council was predicting a one-off operating deficit of $7 million.

"This is why we want a surplus nine years out of 10," he said.

"We're tackling this financial challenge head on and doing everything we can to minimise the impact on residents.

"Council has taken a $3 million hit to our revenue."

10AM: The Fraser Coast Regional Council budget meeting is under way at Maryborough City Hall this morning.

This is set to be a unique budget, given the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Mayor George Seymour last week told the Chronicle COVID-19 assistance measures would be included in the budget.

These will be in addition to the $1 million relief package the council announced in March.

We will provide you with up-to-the-minute coverage from this important budget meeting.

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