Redland City Council has adopted an “achievable and affordable” budget for 2018-19.
The budget delivers an average rates and charges rise of 3.99 percent for a typical category 1a, owner-occupied household, excluding State Government charges, while maintaining Council’s low-debt status. It also delivers a $66.9 million capital works program that focuses on the renewal of vital community infrastructure such as roads and parks.
Mayor Karen Williams said Councillors had to strike a balance between keeping residential and commercial rates rises to a minimum and meeting the expectations of residents against a backdrop of continued hefty increases in the State Government’s bulk water charges and cost of waste management.
“For the fourth consecutive year, we have maintained our water retail charges at the same rate as 2015 to offset the continued substantial rises in the state bulk water price,” Cr Williams said.
“The state’s water rise accounts for 72 cents a week or nearly $37.40 a year based on average 200kL consumption.
“This is something over which Council has no control, along with the higher cost of managing the city’s waste and recycling,” Cr Williams said.
Cr Williams said in framing this budget, Councillors worked to ensure it was both achievable and affordable, while maintaining the city’s enviable financial status and delivering the major projects that will be required in the years ahead.
“Under this $289 million budget, a typical Redland household – that’s a category 1a residential owner-occupied property with a property land value of $241,305 – will see a modest increase of 3.99 percent for their Redland City Council rates and utilities, excluding the State Government bulk water and emergency management charges.
Cr Williams said part of the average rates increase was linked to Council’s environmental and community safety obligations.
“The city’s environmental levy will rise by $6.48 a year to fund the acquisition of strategic land such as the Commonwealth land at Birkdale, for which we are negotiating with the Federal Government,’’ Cr Williams said.
“We also have allocated over $1.1 million to our Koala Conservation program to fund on-the-ground research and develop science-based actions to protect koalas and their habitat.
“Changes to the Australian recycling landscape have also led to an increase in waste charges to ensure the Redlands continues to be proactive in promoting best-practice recycling.
Cr Williams said the 2018-19 budget allowed for a small projected operating deficit of about $2.35 million – a significant improvement on last year.
“This budget was also the first to benefit from the application of new prioritisation principles to the capital works program,” Cr Williams said.
“We have implemented a new, more rigorous way of prioritising major projects, which ensures our capital works program is achievable and delivers residents the best value for money.
“This year we are focusing on renewing existing community infrastructure to ensure it remains in good shape and save money in the long term.
“This really is a steady budget which locks in the work which has been done in the past few years and prepares us well for delivering the services and infrastructure that will be needed in the years ahead.
Cr Williams said that after increases in commercial rates last year to help drive much-needed investment and growth, this year’s commercial rates rises reflected the residential increase.
“The modest rise in the commercial rates will continue to support measures to boost our economic development and help local businesses and enterprises to grow through making our city more attractive to trade and investment,’’ she said.
There also has been a change to Council’s rating categories to take in the new system for funding the city’s canal revetment walls.
“Canal and lake dredging and maintenance will be funded through general rates after recent community consultation, including a Citizens’ Advisory Panel,’’ Cr Williams said.
“Council will pay for all dredging and maintenance and 10 percent of the cost of maintaining Raby Bay revetment walls and this has had some effect on rates across the city.
“Raby Bay canal property owners will essentially continue to pay for their proportion of revetment walls through the new differential rates, with Council project managing repairs.
“This will provide assurance that any revetment wall problems will be fixed and not left to individual owners.”
Cr Williams said Council remained unwavering in its commitment to offset cost increases by becoming smarter and more efficient and was also seeking greater support through funding from the State Government.
“We are drawing a line in the sand over what we pay for and what the state pays for. We want ratepayers’ money for local projects that are the responsibility of Council,’’ Cr Williams said.
“Our policy position is that public transport is a state responsibility and they should pay for it. It is untenable that Redland City continues to be the only council of its size that funds infrastructure for ferry services.
“This decision frees up money for projects that will benefit the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, including $3.1 million towards planning for the Weinam Creek project, the largest intergenerational project to receive funding in this budget.
“We continue to lobby for our fair share of state and federal funding rather than allowing our rates to be increased by the ongoing cost shifting.
“Local Government across the country is responsible for 25 per cent of the nation’s infrastructure, but receives only three per cent of all taxes raised.”
Cr Williams said that of all the money Council raised, almost three-quarters was for the maintenance programs needed to support the community and their delivery, with the rest set aside for new infrastructure and capital programs.
“And of our total funding, less than 14 percent comes in the form of grants, subsidies and contributions from sources such as other levels of government,” she said.
The Budget at a glance:
- A typical Redlands resident owner-occupied household (category 1a with a property value of about $241,305) will see a modest increase of 3.99 percent on Council rates and charges, excluding the State Government bulk water and emergency management charges.
- The increased state bulk water charge equates to about 72 cents per week or nearly $37.40 a year.
- Council’s retail water costs maintained at 2015-16 prices to help offset the State Government bulk water cost increase of 7.3 per cent from 2017-18 to 2018-19.
- General rate increases for commercial properties on par with residential properties.
- Capital expenditure totalling $66.9 million.
- New borrowings for intergenerational projects of $2.5 million as compared to the forecast revenue of $319 million.
- A projected operating deficit of about $2.35 million.
- Pensioner rebate maintained at $335 per year for a full pensioner or $167.50 for a part-pensioner.
- Environment levy increases $6.48 a year to help fund purchases of strategic land for the community.
- Koala Conservation program funding of $1.1 million to deliver on-the-ground research and science-based actions to protect and improve koala habitat, reduce koala deaths and improve community education around koalas.
Visit the Redland City Council website for more information.