Redland City Council limits rates rise

Redland City Council’s 2016-17 Budget will see a typical Redlands household’s rates increase by just 0.7 per cent or about 43 cents a week – the lowest rise in South-East Queensland.

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said this year’s $288 million Budget, adopted unanimously, also predicted a fourth successive operating surplus while maintaining Council’s low debt levels.

“This year a typical Redland household – that’s a category 1a owner-occupied property with a property value of about $306,450 – will see a modest increase of just 0.7 per cent or about 43 cents a week including all water consumption, rates and utility charges,” she said.

“Indeed, this increase covers only a small part of the extra impost on Council from rises in water, utilities and other state government charges.

“Council has been particularly hard hit by a 9.2 per cent increase in state government bulk water charges – the fifth hefty increase in a row –  and had it not been for this and other rises outside of our control residents’ bills would have gone down with the average general rate for a category 1a owner-occupied property falling 3.1 per cent.

“This is the best result in our region by far and I thank Councillors for unifying to put residents first by absorbing millions of dollars in external costs rather than passing them on.’’

The weekly increase of 43 cents compares with 72 cents for Moreton Bay Regional Council, $1.12 for the Gold Coast, $1.35 for Brisbane, $1.40 for Logan, $2.02 for Ipswich and $2.14 for the Sunshine Coast.

Cr Williams said the increase in the state’s bulk water charge to $33.3 million followed an increase of about 10 per cent last year, which Council absorbed.

“While we must pass on this year’s state government rise, we have kept our retail water costs at last year’s levels to minimise the impact on residents,’’ she said.

“It means the total water and waste charge component will cost 2.55 per cent more, eroding the cut in the average general rate.’’

Cr Williams said it was pleasing that existing ratepayers were funding only a small part of Council’s total revenue increase – or headline rate – of 3.41 per cent over last year.

“Much of this increase will come from new ratepayers coming to the city and growth in development contributions as well as improved grants funding from the State and Federal governments and not out of existing ratepayers’ pockets,’’ Cr Williams said.

“This allows Redland City to maintain among the lowest debt levels in South-East Queensland and deliver a modest and financially prudent operating surplus of just under $500,000 while raising the bar on service delivery.

“The increase compares well with other councils in the region, with our residents benefiting from by far the lowest rises and the fact we have low debt and money in the bank.’’

Cr Williams said a benefit of Council’s sound financial planning was the creation of a new Community Infrastructure Fund to address priorities in the divisions.

“This is about bringing forward capital works projects locally considered of high priority,’’ Cr Williams said. “We have been able to do this because the city has cash in the bank.’’

Other highlights of the Budget include:

  • A rationalisation of ratings categories across the mainland and Southern Moreton Bay Islands to provide for consistency between communities, with the minimum rate also brought into line across the city.
  • An increase in rebates to pensioners, up $5 to $335 for full pensioners and $2.50 for part-pensioners.
  • No new borrowings.

Cr Williams congratulated Councillors for their unified approach to this year’s budget and for working hard to keep rate increases to a minimum.

“Through this budget Councillors have minimised both rate rises and debt while delivering a
$77 million capital plan,’’ Cr Williams said.

“Nearly $25 million has been committed to road, traffic and transport upgrades and initiatives, underscoring Council’s commitment to making it easier for Redlanders to get around their city and commute.’’

The 2016-17 Budget provides:

  • $20.97 million for roads projects, including the green seal program on the Southern Moreton Bay and Coochiemudlo islands.
  • $7.69 million for infrastructure, including the Cleveland pool redevelopment, stormwater drainage upgrades and expansion, carpark resurfacing, cycleways and footpaths.
  • $4.58 million for open space and conservation projects, including $500,000 for sportsfield lighting at John Fredericks Park, Capalaba, and playground and park renewals.
  • $8.86 million for marine and foreshore projects including the seawall program and Macleay Island ramp carpark and seawall and asbestos capping projects.
  • $11.17 million for community and cultural services, including the Community Infrastructure Fund.
  • $1.24 million for new water services.
  • $12.58 million for wastewater projects.
  • $9.72 million for land acquisitions and asset replacement programs.

The Budget at a glance:

  • A typical Redland household; that is a category 1a owner-occupied property with a property value of about $306,450 will see a modest increase of just 0.7 per cent or about 43 cents a week including all water consumption, rates and utility charges.
  • Weekly increase of 43 cents compares with 72 cents for Moreton Bay, $1.12 for the Gold Coast, $1.35 for Brisbane, $1.40 for Logan, $2.02 for Ipswich and $2.14 for the Sunshine Coast.
  • Average general rate decrease of 3.1 per cent, excluding levies and utilities.
  • A headline rate (Council total revenue) increase of 3.41 per cent, much of which has come through growth and an increase in contributions from development projects.
  • No new borrowings to maintain Council low debt ratios.
  • Restricting the average increase of the water and waste component to 2.5 per cent – despite a 9.2 per cent increase in the state government’s bulk water charges.
  • No increase in Council’s retail water costs.
  • A predicted operating surplus of $479,000.
  • An increase of $5 in the full pensioner rate to $335, with a $2.50 increase for part-pensioners.
  • Capital expenditure totalling $77 million.
  • Inclusion of a $5 State Emergency Service levy in the overall 0.7 per cent average rates increase.
  • Environment charge increases $1.88 to $89.08 a year.
  • Landfill remediation charge up by 86 cents to $40.86.

Valuations and rating reform

Council’s general rate is based on valuations calculated by the state government’s Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

Revaluations are outside of Council’s control and this year led to substantial increases in older, established Bayside suburbs such as  Ormiston, which was up 15.21 per cent, and Wellington Point, which rose  20.19 per cent.

Council is obliged to use these new valuations in framing its rates and much consideration was given to ensuring their impact was minimised.

The effect of these increased valuations was mitigated by significant rating reform which now provides a simpler system that allows for consistency across the city.

It means increases in areas such as Ormiston and Wellington Point are much lower than they might have been.

For example, under the reform the rate in the dollar paid by a Wellington Point home owner whose property’s value has increased from $255,000 to $305,000 will fall. Once the higher valuation is taken into account, their overall rates including water and other charges will go up by about 4.2 per cent despite a valuation increase of almost 20 per cent and a 9.2 per cent rise in the state government’s bulk water charge.

Home owners who believed their valuations were incorrect and who could provide information to support this were given an opportunity to lodge an objection to the Valuer-General earlier this year.

Go to our website at for full budget information.