Council budget balances cost of living pressures and growth

Date published: 28 June 2023

There is no rate-in-the-dollar increase in the 2023/24 Budget and Operational Plan and the average rate and utilities charge for Townsville’s home owner-occupiers will increase by less than $2.50 a week.

Townsville City Council adopted its $892.6 million budget at today’s Ordinary Council Meeting with a focus on responding to cost-of-living pressures while continuing investment to grow Townsville.

Mayor Jenny Hill said owner-occupiers will see an average increase of three per cent on their general rate, which is less than $1 per week, and an increase of 3.4 per cent on utilities notice, which is less than $1.42 per week.

“Rates are based on the value of properties, and the latest review by the Queensland Valuer-General resulted in some Townsville land values increasing by more than 270 per cent,” Cr Hill said.

“To help owner-occupiers, Council made the decision to cap any increases to 10 per cent per year and this year we remain committed to keeping that cap at the same level for those properties.

“Any increase home owner-occupiers may get in their next general rate notice is due to the carry-over effects from the latest land valuations.

“The cost of putting food on the table, fuel in the car and a roof over our head is getting more expensive and Council is doing what it can to help ease that burden.

“Our strong financial management over the last few years has put Council in a good position to manage these rising costs and minimise increases for ratepayers.”

Cr Hill said Council has had to pass on a modest increase in delivering everyday services in the 2023/24 budget due to rising costs of electricity, fuel, materials and services for Council.

“What it means is that most ratepayers will see an average increase of about $1.42 per week on their utilities which includes water, waste services and wastewater services.

“Despite the increase, Townsville still has some of the most affordable water in Queensland,” she said.

Business Services and Finance Committee chairperson Margie Ryder said the 2023/24 budget focused on responsibly managing costs while continuing to grow Townsville.

“We own and manage an asset base worth more than $7.9 billion of which six per cent is funded by borrowings,” Cr Ryder said.

“To compare to a mortgage of $400,000, we would have $24,000 still owing on the house.

“This puts us in a solid financial position to respond to unexpected cost pressures and continue growing our city.

“Townsville is one of the fastest growing regions in northern Australia and any growth phase requires investment.

“Our recognised strong financial management has meant we have been able to sustainably invest in long-term projects to support our growth while also keeping borrowing low.”

The 2023/24 budget includes $24.5 million in concessions and discounts to help some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

Cr Hill said the budget maintained one of the most generous concession schemes in the state.

“We know pensioners are among the hardest hit by the cost-of-living pressures and in this budget, eligible pensioners are entitled to up to $800 off their general rates,” she said.

“Our not-for-profit organisations and sporting clubs play a pivotal role in our community, and we are continuing to offer help to eligible groups through either full rebates on general rates or partial rebates on water and sewerage charges.

“This budget strikes the right balance between helping with the cost-of-living pressures and living within our means while growing Townsville.”

View our 2023/24 Budget and Operational Plan web page for more information.