Budget shows ratepayers to be hit with 5.87% hike
GLADSTONE region ratepayers will cop an average 5.87% rates rise, across all services, in the Gladstone Regional Council's $273 million budget, announced on Wednesday.
General rates account for just 51% of the average rates across all services, and will increase by 2.67% for residential property owners.
Water service charges will increase by 14.9%, sewerage charges by 9.4% and waste charges by 6.4%.
Gladstone region Mayor Gail Sellers said the rates increase comes at an extremely challenging time because of growth pressure and the inability of other tiers of government to provide essential funding.
"Tough decisions made this year provide a strong platform for the future; and I am pleased to say we have managed to develop a Budget that places Council in a position to return to surplus in 2015/16, ahead of our long-term financial plan forecast," she said.
The general rate increase is comparable to other regional centres, according to economic development strategy portfolio spokesperson Councillor Karen Porter.
"Our minimum general rates for 2014-2015 are $867 compared to $914 in Bundaberg, $1042 in Rockhampton and $1168 in Mackay," Cr Porter said.
While most residents will pay increased rates of between 5-10%, 28% of residential property owners, or 6068 properties, will receive a general rate reduction.
Cr Sellers said the council had spent months planning and critically reviewing short-term decisions, ensuring they were consistent with its long-term financial plan goals.
More than $100 million will go towards new infrastructure or the addition of new components to existing infrastructure, and $169 million is allocated to operating costs.
Key announcements include $3.5 million to investigate and design a second bridge for the Boyne River, $1.5 million toward the Barney Point Foreshore Development and $5.4 million for stage one of the Philip St Communities Precinct project.
Cr Sellers said new to rating this financial year would be a minimum general rate increase of 10 per cent to $867 for rural and residential ratepayers; and the introduction of a new rating category for properties where there are nine lots or more on a community titles scheme.
"These changes ensure all ratepayers contribute equitably to service provision and helps us deliver a considerate rates increase in 2014/15."
Wednesday's budget was the third handed down by the current group of councillors.