Douglas development must be tempered /Newsport
Friday February 28th 2014
Douglas's outgoing CEO says reinvestment in existing infrastructure and smart financing will help the new council grow in later years.
Jeff Tate started work in April last year, guiding the new council through the de-amalgamation process as transfer officer.
He took over as acting CEO in January and will return to his consultancy business in South Australia next month.
Mr Tate says maintaining existing roads, bridges and drainage should be council's top priority.
"The investment decisions will need to be really well considered," he says. "It's not just about the capital costs of things, it's the annual costs to maintain them.
"So the focus for quite a few years needs to be on renewal of infrastructure, rather building a whole lot of new stuff.
"That's where governments get into trouble."
But future investment in new projects isn't off the table.
"If the council keeps chipping away ... I think in four or five years it will have a break-even budget," he says.
"I think all the financial sustainability indicators will be quite good by that point.
Mr Tate will be replaced by Daintree resident Linda Cardew.
Ms Cardew says the new council would need to show both strong financial discipline and a willingness to work in 'innovative' ways.
"Douglas Shire will not be an island," she says.
"So it will be incumbent on us to look for government grants and where possible develop public and private partnerships."
The Douglas Council is one of the smallest in Queensland with just 11,000 residents and a small ratepayer base to draw from.
Mr Tate finishes next week and says he feels 'blessed' to have worked in the region.
He says he's looking forward to spending time with his two grandchildren.
"One of them is nine months old and I've been up here since she was born so I'm very keen to see her," he says.
"At the same time, working here has been wonderful.
"I've had a number of people at events come up and shake my hand and thank me.
"For a bureaucrat that's pretty unusual."