Strong financial management results in zero rates rise

Date published: 23 June 2021

Continued strong financial management will allow Townsville City Council to invest in critical infrastructure and enhance service delivery without increasing rates in 2021/22.

Mayor Jenny Hill said Council was seeing increases in costs of doing business; however, financial discipline meant these costs could be absorbed internally without the need to increase the general rate.

“Council, like households and private sector businesses, is seeing the price of many of the materials it uses every day go up,” Cr Hill said.

“Raw materials for road construction, water pipes, insurance, wages, and fuel are all increasing, just to name a few.

“Council has been able to absorb these cost increases through efficiencies and innovation, enabling us to formulate a budget with no increase in the general rate or wastewater charges.

“As we have foreshadowed in previous budgets, there is a 5 per cent increase in water charges and a 3 per cent increase in waste charges in 2021/22 as we continue to work to meet requirements placed on us by the State and Commonwealth governments.

“The average owner-occupier can expect these increases combined to equate to less than $1 per week.

“While water prices are increasing, Townsville will have the second cheapest water in the state.

“In fact, according to an independent report, Townsville’s average annual household water charge of $864 is well below the state average of $1,844 for the same water use.”

Business Services and Finance Committee chairperson Margie Ryder said Council had retained its generous early payment discount for ratepayers.

“Council will continue to provide a 10 per cent early payment discount for owner-occupiers, while the discount for non-owner occupiers will be set at 5 per cent,” Cr Ryder said.

“The savings Council will make from reducing the discount for non-owner occupiers will be invested back into enhancing the delivery of services to the community.

“In particular, Council has made the considered choice to provide opportunities for small and medium-sized contractors to complement its own maintenance activities across the city rather than putting on more staff.

“Despite the fact that rates charges are a tax deduction for business and investors, we understand some businesses may be disappointed with the change to their early payment discount.

“Ultimately, however, this is money that will be reinvested in smaller businesses through new contracted work for the city.”

Cr Ryder said Council would also continue to provide some of the most generous concessions for pensioners on rates and charges in the state, representing a saving of up to $800 a year for these ratepayers at the cost of around $5.6 million to Council.

“The 2021/22 Budget continues Council’s practice of providing concessions on general rates for not-for-profit organisations, which represents a $1.5 million saving for these bodies,” she said.

“Council is also continuing to provide concessions on water and wastewater, where the land use is considered to the social, cultural, economic or sporting welfare of the community, at a cost of close to $4.4 million.

“Not-for-profit sporting clubs across the city will also continue to receive a 50 per cent discount on their sewerage charges.

“These savings allow our community groups and not-for-profits to invest in their activities and continue contributing to our community.”