Somerset residents face rise of 4.2%

THE former Toogoolawah Nestle factory will be converted into a $1.8million community arts and cultural precinct as part of the Somerset Regional Council's budget handed down yesterday.

The council committed to transform the century-old former factory into a multi-use community art space and cultural precinct.

The $66.8million budget has seen Somerset remain debt free and will see $9million spent on road and bridge upgrades and maintenance.

The minimum general rates and average residential and farming rates will increase by 4.2% which equates to an extra $28 a year for the average residential owner-occupier.

Youth is a budget focus with the council to deliver new initiatives in youth development including a full-time youth development worker.

Mayor Graeme Lehmann said the council was committed to helping local youth, with a higher than average regional population below 15.

"In 2011, about 34% of Somerset residents had completed Year 12 or equivalent which is significantly lower than 46.6% of Queenslanders," Cr Lehmann said.

"Only 26.8% of Somerset residents aged between 20 and 24 are employed compared to 36.2% for Queensland overall.

"These figures are concerning which is why council is investing in the future of our youth."

The security camera rollout will continue in Fernvale and Lowood.

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