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    Low rates, big spend on capital works in sensible council budget

    Cairns Regional Council releases balanced budget with just 1.5 percent rate rise and funding for Performing Arts Centre, Shields St upgrade and tourism initiatives.

    A record $178 million spend on capital works and a $250,000 light rail scoping study are among the highlights of Cairns Regional Council's 2016-17 Budget handed down this morning.

    Mayor Bob Manning announced a surplus of more than $6 million in what is his fourth balanced budget in a row.

    In great news for ratepayers, around two-thirds of all rates will increase by just 1.5% or less, while others will get a reduction.

    As the council awaits news from the Federal Government on funding certainty for the new Performing Arts Centre, the Budget also contains $36 million for completion of the centre and Munro Martin Parklands.

    Other highlights include: 

    • $3.1m for new cycling infrastructure
    • $6.7m for drainage improvements
    • $9.37m for reseals, overlays and pavement rehab
    • $10.6m for Shields St Heart stage 2
    • $3m to support tourism industry support and $470K for economic development initiatives
    • $1m to support and develop major sporting events that will benefit the region

    Mayor Bob Manning said it was the third consecutive year of low 1.5 percent rate rises.

    "Council has spent considerable time striking the right balance in this budget and I believe we have got it right," he said in his speech this morning.

    "This plan responds to our residents needs and ensures Cairns becomes an even better place to live, play and do business."

    The Budget was passed shortly after Mayor Manning's speech with the unanimous support of councillors.