Battle to keep rates rise low

Published 5:00am 12 June 2023

Battle to keep rates rise low
Words by Kylie Knight

Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Peter Flannery says this week’s 2023/24 Budget will include a rates increase lower than CPI despite the rising cost of delivering services and building infrastructure.

CPI/inflation was 6.8 per cent in April.

Council is due to adopt the Budget during a special meeting on Friday, June 16.

Mayor Flannery says cost-of-living pressures have been front-of-mind in formulating the Budget.

|“Despite the difficult economic conditions and rising inflation, I can guarantee that Council will not be cutting projects or services,” he says.|

“All councils are struggling with skyrocketing costs, but we are determined to remain one of the lowest rating councils in South East Queensland, so Moreton Bay remains more affordable than our neighbours,” he says.

“I definitely want to ensure locals pay less than our peers - the Gold and Sunshine Coasts - and hopefully less than smaller SEQ councils like Ipswich and Logan as well.”

The Budget is expected to include measures to help those doing it tough, including pensioners, self-funded retirees and families.

Mayor Flannery says council is facing higher costs in service delivery and construction, with the Construction Price Index rising 15 per cent.

A cost breakdown, provided by council, shows materials have jumped by 40 per cent.

One example is the cost per square metre for footpaths. In 2019/2020 it was about $89.36. It is now about $133.06.

The cost of collecting and processing rubbish (waste management) has jumped from $37,967,655 in 2019/20 to $48,000,000 in 2022/23. It is expected to be $54,523,032 in 2023/24.

“We pride ourselves on having the lowest waste collection charges and offering free tipping for local households, which we will continue even as we move to implement a more sustainable Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) system,” Mayor Flannery says.

“But our real point of difference, from a fiscal perspective, is how we’ve managed debt compared to other Councils. Moreton Bay’s total assets are valued at over $8 billion, while the debt on these assets is only around $313 million.

“To put that into perspective, that’s the equivalent of owning a house today valued at $800,000 and having a mortgage of just $31,074.”

Battle to keep rates rise low

Balancing act

So, how will Council balance rising costs with the need to keep the region’s economy moving?

“Investment attraction. We need new businesses to bring new jobs. Fortunately, our Regional Economic Development Strategy started back in 2020 and is starting to deliver, especially in tourism and agriculture,” he says.

“But we need to unlock more industrial land to support industry and manufacturing, so more locals can work closer to home rather than commuting.

“While we work to manage things like rising fuel costs, labour costs and material costs, we cannot be deterred from our ambition to be a nation-leader in terms of liveability, affordability and sustainability.”

He says council will still rollout new projects and infrastructure, essential for a growing area.

Moreton Daily will provide comprehensive Budget coverage on June 16 as it is adopted by Council during its meeting which starts at 9am.

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