Restarting Redlands Coast is at the heart of Council’s record $327 million COVID-affected budget for 2020-21 which provides a $3 million safety net for those most impacted by the pandemic.
The budget includes an expanded $80 million capital investment in the city aimed at generating and preserving local jobs and adding to and sustaining vital community infrastructure and services.
Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said it was expected Council’s finances would take a multi-million-dollar hit from COVID, including $3 million in COVID recovery funding that had been allocated to help the city recover from the pandemic.
“Right now we need money spent in our city and, with Council being one of Redland Coast’s largest employers, we are taking up the challenge by ensuring local money creates local jobs,” Cr Williams said.
“Council has been diligent in maintaining low levels of debt and a strong balance sheet over the years in preparation for a rainy day and the rain has arrived, so with local businesses struggling we are going to spend local to keep locals employed.
“A significant part of this record spend is thanks to the strong financial reserves that we built for a situation such as this.
“We are also topping up our COVID recovery fund by a further $1 million, providing a total of $3 million safety net to be used by those most impacted by the pandemic.
“While some Councils have chosen to spread rate relief broadly, we have adopted a deliberate strategy of supporting those who need it most by keeping money aside to provide relief when that need is better understood,” Cr Williams said.
“We know the full impacts of the COVID pandemic won’t be known until later this year when support like the Federal Government’s Job Keeper program have ended and this funding will allow us to do that.
“This may be through rates relief, business support or grants to the community; we will keep an eye on the impacts and have that money on hand to respond when and where it is needed most.”
Cr Williams said Council would absorb as much of the COVID impacts as possible, without passing on the impact to residents.
“We will do this by adopting an operating deficit budget and keeping the increase in general rates revenue to 2.99 percent taking in all rating categories – or about 62 cents a week for a typical category 1a, owner-occupied household, excluding separate charges, utilities and State Government charges.
“The extra money collected in rates through this year’s increase will contribute towards further COVID-19 recovery measures to help areas hardest hit by the pandemic response.
“We have also reduced other charges, with the environment separate charge down 4.7 percent and the landfill remediate charge down almost 26 percent.”
Cr Williams said as part of its COVID response Council had strengthened its focus on spending locally to help stimulate the economy.
“It is about getting people out an about again, getting the economy moving, supporting residents, backing businesses, restoring the climate for local employment and creating opportunity.
“It has allowed us to offer total pensioner rates and utilities rebates of almost $3.5 million, with rates rebates of $335 a year for a full pensioner or $167.50 for a part-pensioner.”
Cr Williams said it was disappointing the State Government had increased bulk water costs by a further 6.4 per cent, meaning the city’s total bulk water costs were now $43.4 million.
“This increase is on top of hefty increases over the last three years and comes despite us asking the State to hold bulk water costs to help residents respond to the COVID pandemic.
“To put this in perspective, the city’s bulk water bill is more than half of what we will spend in our capital expenditure program to provide vital community infrastructure.
“Despite this increase Council has kept its retail water consumption increase to just 2.13 percent.”
The 2020-21 budget at a glance:
- Record $327 million investment in Redlands Coast.
- An increase in general rates revenue of 2.99 percent taking in all rating categories – or about 62 cents a week for a typical category 1a, owner-occupied household, excluding separate charges, utilities and State Government charges.
- Capital expenditure of almost $80 million.
- The State Government’s bulk water charge, over which Council has no control, increases by about $36 for the average ratepayer to fund a total cost of almost $43.4 million this year.
- Environment separate charge down 4.7 percent and the landfill remediation charge down almost 26 percent – a reduction of $16 on last year for both charges.
- Council’s retail water consumption charge up by about 2.13 percent.
- Total pensioner rebates rises to almost $3 million, with rates rebates of $335 a year for a full pensioner or $167.50 for a part-pensioner and other utility charge remissions and rebates totaling $467,000.
Capital expenditure program at a glance:
- $30 million for transport, roads and traffic projects.
- $3.2 million for other infrastructure projects.
- $10.2 million for marine and foreshore projects, including canal and breakwater works.
- $12.7 million for water, waste and wastewater projects.
- $13.8 million for parks, open space and conservation.
- $2 million for community and cultural development.
Go to our website at redland.qld.gov.au/budget for full budget information.