Redland City budget targets key priorities

Redland City Council has unanimously adopted a budget for 2017-18 which keeps residential rate increases to a minimum while investing heavily in the City.

Mayor Karen Williams said the budget was the first framed around the six strategic priorities agreed to by all Councillors after last year’s election.

“Under this $300 million Budget, a typical Redland household – that’s a category 1a property with a property value of about $305,257 – will see a modest increase of just 2.73 per cent for their rates and utilities,’’ Cr Williams said.

“This budget reflects what the community told us they wanted at the last election, especially investment to stimulate local business and job creation, as well as doing what’s needed to make this a better connected community.

“Last year when this Council was elected, we made a promise to govern the city with a unified approach, with the community as our guide.

“In response Councillors united to adopt six strategic priorities to deliver on the community’s wishes and, in adopting this budget, we have balanced these priorities with the need to keep costs down for our community.

“The result is a responsible plan which invests heavily in our City and builds on our strong foundations while minimising the cost impact on our residents.’’

Cr Williams said the increase to residential rates in the budget matched Council’s blended CPI index calculated as at the December 2016 quarter.

“This essentially is the increased cost to Council of running the city,’’ Cr Williams said.

Cr Williams said a major impact on Council’s costs were State Government bulk water prices, which had increased by almost a third over the last three years, including a 8.47 per cent increase this year.

“We continue to see massive bulk water price hikes, adding to the nine per cent increase last year and the 10 per cent increase the year before,” she said.

“State Government charges add 91 cents a week to our residents, taking the total increase to $2.34 for the average resident. The state’s water rise alone accounts for 77 cents of the increase at based on average 200kL consumption.

“Continuing substantial increases in the State’s bulk water charges are having a significant impact. We cannot absorb it all but we have again minimised this impost on residents and businesses by freezing Council’s water distribution and retail charges.

“We also have continued to offset cost increases by pursuing efficiencies within the organisation and ensuring we get best value for the rates dollar.”

Cr Williams said existing ratepayers would fund only a portion of Council’s total revenue increase – or headline rate – of 5.68 per cent over last year.

“Overall, 1.72 per cent of that is attributable to the city’s growth,’’ Cr Williams said.

Cr Williams said increases in commercial rates would help drive much-needed investment and growth in the local business community.

“The Redlands has had some of the lowest commercial rates in South East Queensland however we know the business community wants us to do more to stimulate the local economy,’’ Cr Williams said.

“The rise in the commercial rates will 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.

“We have taken the first big steps and have an economic development framework in place. Now we need to ensure we have the resources to fully develop and implement the action plans required for our key industry and business sectors.”

Cr Williams said this year’s Budget would also strengthen the Redlands environmental character through the launch of the One Million Native Plants initiative.

“Partly funded through a flat $20 increase in the environment levy, the planting of one million native plants across the city will provide a greener city for future generations and continue to build on Council’s commitment to the local environment,” she said.

Cr Williams said Council had allowed for a projected deficit of about $11 million for 2017-18 to ensure the rates impact on residents could be contained while still providing the services demanded.

“Much of this is because of higher depreciation as a result of asset creation and asset revaluation, along with impacts of cost,” Cr Williams said.

“Thankfully years of keeping our books balanced have ensured this Council in very good financial shape.

“Our final budgeted position including capital revenue and expenses is a positive position in the order of $24 million.

“Increasingly we are finding better and smarter ways of doing business that reduce our operating costs during the year and again this year we will look for efficiencies with the aim of reducing costs for our residents.”

Cr Williams said the budget allowed for a healthy $82 million capital expenditure program, while maintaining Council’s low debt levels.

The 2017-18 Budget provides:

  • $23.64 million for roads projects, including the Green Seal Program, Regional Road Alliance Program and resurfacing and rehabilitation programs.
  • $10.77 million for infrastructure, including the Indigiscapes Visitor Centre expansion, Cleveland Aquatic Precinct redevelopment, the Bayview Conservation Area at Redland Bay and bus shelter and seat renewals.
  • $14.39 million for open space and conservation projects, including South East Thornlands Park, the Public Amenities Expansion Program, William Ross Park and Henry Ziegenfusz Sportsfield improvement
  • $14.47 million for marine and foreshore projects, including Macleay Island ramp carpark, seawall and asbestos capping, canal revetment wall upgrades and the Raby Bay Esplanade canoe launching pontoon.
  • $1.88 million for community and cultural development, including libraries, Redland Performing Arts Centre and Redland Art Gallery public art and acquisitions.
  • $1.04 million for new water services, including meter replacement and new water services.
  • $7.39 million for waste and wastewater projects.
  • $8.47 million for land actions and asset replacement programs.

The Budget at a glance:

  • A typical Redland household (category 1a with a property value of about $305,257) will see a modest increase of 2.73 per cent, excluding the State Government bulk water and emergency management charges.
  • The increased state bulk water charge equates to about 77 cents a week.
  • The state’s emergency management charge equates to about 14 cents a week.
  • The general rate for commercial and shopping centre rating categories increases to support business development.
  • Capital expenditure totalling $82 million.
  • A headline rate (Council total revenue) increase of 5.68 per cent, of which 1.72 per cent is attributable to the City’s growth.
  • New borrowings less than 1 per cent of revenue.
  • No increase in Council’s retail water costs to help offset the State Government bulk water cost increase of 8.47 per cent.
  • A predicted operating deficit of $11.1 million.
  • Pensioner rebate maintained at $335 per year for a full pensioner or $167.50 for a part-pensioner.
  • Environment levy increases $20 to $109.08 to help fund Council’s “One million native plants’’ project.

The six strategic priorities around which the budget was framed:

  • Transport and connectivity
  • Sport, education and the arts
  • Economic development
  • Planning
  • Branding identity
  • Smart cities and digital connectivity