BACK IN THE BLACK: Mayor Paul McVeigh talks with Cr Ray Brown after the budget.
BACK IN THE BLACK: Mayor Paul McVeigh talks with Cr Ray Brown after the budget. Michael Doyle

Council expects return to surplus in 2019

THE Western Downs will be debt free next year, according to this week's budget.

The local government has forecast to be in the black this time next year.

This is in stark contrast to the position the council was in three years prior.

A $62 million debt in 2015 hampered the government, but a small surplus is planned in 2019.

Wednesday's budget expects to have a $1.5 million profit in 12 months' time.

Mayor Paul McVeigh said his team had been fiscally responsible during this current political term.

"We are making our money work smarter not harder, and this lets us allocate funds to the things that matter for the strength and vitality of our communities,” he said.

"While this budget and our forecasts over the next nine years indicate council will be financially and operationally sustainable, we are looking way ahead in the future to ensure the sustainability of our region.”

It is understood the current $5.5 million debt is all associated with the Dalby Saleyards, which is making a profit and paying itself off.

Next year's budget will be the last before the next elections, and a surplus could prove to be an important asset in re-election bids.