2020/21 Budget - Strong financial management and jobs generation at the forefront of Council budget

Date published: 30 June 2020

A freeze on general rates for owner-occupiers, a $221.9 million investment in infrastructure to support local jobs and a $15 million COVID-19 support response are the cornerstones of Townsville City Council’s 2020/21 budget, released today.

Mayor Jenny Hill said the fiscally responsible budget would help the city recover from the devastation of the COVID-19 global pandemic while at the same time investing in the future.

Cr Hill said the budget, with a total value of $648.8 million, has been described as a sensible and conservative in a year where businesses globally continue to plan through uncertainty.

“This budget is being delivered in very difficult circumstances, with a focus on ensuring Council invests in a way that supports this community to continue to grow,” Cr Hill said.

“There is no doubt that our community, including Council, has had a tough year, only 12 months after the Monsoon event to be hit with the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“That is why it is important that this budget includes support for the community’s recovery.

“We have done that through a freeze on general rates for owner-occupiers for at least the next 6 months, a freeze on wastewater charges across the city, economic support for businesses and support for community groups and not-for-profit organisations.”

Water charges will increase by 5 per cent in line with Council’s commercial pricing model and there will be a 5 per cent increase in wheelie bin and landfill fees.

These increases combined will, on average, cost ratepayers $0.98 cents per week.

New Valuer General land valuations undertaken in March 2020 have seen shifts and this may impact on individual properties. Other fees and charges will increase in line with inflation.

Cr Hill said Council’s capital works investment was designed to support 1,769 jobs.

“Council will support the community’s recovery from the effects of COVID-19 by investing in jobs-generating capital works across our city,” she said

“The budget includes $75.8million for new, enhanced and refurbished underground infrastructure such as water, wastewater and stormwater assets.

“Such an investment is essential to ensure these assets can operate effectively and efficiently.

“There’s also $150.3 million to maintain and improve our road network, $22.7 million for water security, $81.1 million for the city’s parks and open spaces and $7.6 million for the restoration of Townsville’s waterways and costal environment which was damaged in last year’s unprecedented monsoon.

“The 2020/21 budget delivers on my team’s election commitment to support first home buyers with a $1000 discount being made available off their first rates bill in their new home.

“When combined with incentives being provided by the State and Federal Governments, there really is no better time to buy your first home and there’s no better place to buy than Townsville.”

Council Governance and Finance Committee chairperson Kurt Rehbein said the budget also provided $20.6 million to deliver arts, culture and community celebrations, which includes library and galleries services and events such as annual Christmas activities.

“There’s also $9 million for community grants, sponsorships and funding agreements as well as a new 50 per cent discount on sewerage charges for not-for-profit sporting organisations,” Cr Rehbein said.

“Council will also continue to provide one of the most generous pensioner rate concessions in Queensland and, for other ratepayers, the early payment discount of 10 per cent for their rates, an initiative that is utilised by around 90 per cent of residents and equates to $18.6 million staying in ratepayers’ pockets.”