Council keeps rate rise minimal despite rising costs

Date published: 21 June 2022

Townsville City Council’s 2022/23 Budget has delivered a minimal general rate rise despite a sharp increase in operating costs.

Mayor Jenny Hill said strong financial management and a keen focus on internal efficiencies and innovative service delivery has enabled Council to put continued downward pressure on rates.

“Our positive financial position is due to strong and prudent financial management which has been a pillar of our long-term fiscal strategy,” Cr Hill said.

“But the challenge of rising costs means there is still a balance that needs to be struck for our community.

“In developing this budget, our goal was to strike the right balance of ensuring we had necessary funding to continue delivering services and growing Townsville, while limiting the financial impact to ratepayers.

“In order to do that, Council has focused on good financial management and worked very hard over the past 12 months to absorb increases to operational costs as much as possible.

“Today’s budget has a rate increase of 2 per cent in the dollar. This is in line with the record of Council’s approach under my leadership of keeping rates at or below inflation.”

Business Services and Finance Committee chairperson Margie Ryder said the rate increase had been set at 2 per cent in the dollar despite the recent skyrocketing costs of fuel, labour and materials.

“During last financial year fuel has increased in price by $1 a litre, steel prices are at a 10-year high, bitumen has increased by 30 per cent and fertiliser prices are hitting record highs across the country,” Cr Ryder said.

“When you consider Council uses close to 50,000L of fuel every week, maintain the equivalent of 5,200 football fields in open spaces, manage a 1,700km road network and hundreds of kilometres of underground pipe across the city, these price hikes have an enormous impact.

“The reality is it is much more expensive to carry out our day-to-day operations, but our focus has always been finding more efficient and innovative ways of delivering services to our community in order to minimise any impact on rates.

“It is crucial we continue to deliver fundamental services and provide the strategic leadership to invest in future jobs growth and economic stability, but we are also focused on minimising cost increases on already stretched family budgets.”

Cr Ryder thanked staff for implementing strong fiscal management measures and working hard to continue to find efficiencies and innovative ways of delivering services.

“That work has ensured we have been able to absorb much of the rising costs of operation and made it possible to keep rate increases low,” Cr Ryder said.

In Queensland, general rates are calculated on the rateable value of the land determined under the Land Valuation Act 2010.

Mayor Jenny Hill said 31 Townsville suburbs had increased in value this year, including one suburb which had jumped in value by more than 270 per cent.

“We understand residents are feeling the pinch of rising costs which is why we have capped any increases to a maximum of 10 per cent,” Cr Hill said.

“Previously, Council applied a 30 per cent cap to minimise the impact of land valuations on general rates but have taken the bold step of dropping the cap by two thirds to protect owner occupiers.

“In this environment of rising costs and affordability challenges, we wanted to do more, which is why we have ensured that any land valuation impact to general rates will not exceed 10 per cent for any residential owner-occupied households for the 2022/23 financial year.

“The outcome of our decision means overall, the average general rate increase for households works out to be just under $3 a week – or less than a takeaway coffee.”

For more information on the 2022/23 Budget and Operational Plan, visit Budget 2022/23.