REVEALED: Rockhampton Council announces 2019-20 budget
ROCKHAMPTON Regional Council will hand down its 2019-20 budget this morning and despite a marginal rate increase, data shows Rockhampton ratepayers pay some of the lowest premiums in the state.
New data from the Queensland Government Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs shows Rockhampton has among the lowest rates in major regional Queensland centres.
And with a rate rise of only 2.8 per cent, ratepayers will continue to pay less than most neighbours to the north, south, east and west.
Rockhampton region Mayor Margaret Strelow said the data spoke for itself in regard to Rockhampton's rates.
"No one likes paying rates,” Cr Strelow said.
"But if you're going to pay them, what the data shows us is that Rockhampton is among the lowest when you compare it against other major regional centres like Townsville, Mackay and Bundaberg.
"So for the average resident, what we're proposing is an increase of about $1.50 a week.”
Council's budget will also see a "one off” adjustment to rural rates and a freeze to the general rates portion of the rates bill for farming properties in order to provide relief for those doing it tough.
"This will deliver some relief to farmers at a time that they need it, but also bring greater equity with rates paid in our neighbouring communities,'' Cr Strelow said.
She said rural residents presented a "persuasive case” to convince councillors to freeze their rates.
Sporting clubs and community organisations would also benefit from added rates concessions which recognised rates made up a "substantial component of many clubs' operating costs”.
"I hate the thought of community groups and sporting clubs holding multiple sausage sizzles just to pay their council rates,” Cr Strelow said.
"We need to use valuable volunteer time for all of the good things that our community groups deliver back into their sport, so this budget will provide some welcome relief and reduce the rates component of our clubs' and associations' annual budgets.”
Every sporting club without poker machines will be eligible for a reduction in rates paid compared to last year, and nearly a quarter will have a reduction of $250 or more from their half-yearly bill, according to today's budget.
Cr Strelow said that rates and charges represented 70 per cent of council's total operating income.
"Without rates, council would not be able to deliver the services and infrastructure our community needs and deserves,” she said.
The 2019-20 budget will see the delivery of the council's seventh budget surplus, and the complete repayment of an inherited $41.5 million de-amalgamation debt.
The Rockhampton Regional Council budget will be officially issued at 11am today.