BUSINESS rates will rise sharply with increases ranging from 3.9 per cent to a whopping 34.7 per cent in the Redland City Council budget.
Residential rates will increase by 2.73 per cent as council struggles with an operating deficit of $11.1 million and rising state water charges.
Council’s budget position has deteriorated over the past year as it struggles to handle costs and a hefty depreciation of assets.
Rates for shopping centres and commercial premises are being jacked up, with council having the lowest such business rates of all 12 south-east councils.
It will absorb about half of the state government’s 8.47 per cent water rise but will increase the environment levy by $20, waste and recycling by $7 and landfill remediation costs by $1.10.
Mayor Karen Williams said about half the operating deficit was due to depreciation of the authority’s $2.5 billion in assets. The aim of the commercial rate rise was to put Redlands in the middle range of similar-sized councils, with returns to be pumped into commercial activity and job creation.
She was hopeful the forecast deficit would reduce further as the financial year progressed, with the council having the lowest debt of any council in south-east Queensland at $41.2 million.
Crs Paul Gleeson and Julie Talty, although supporting the budget, argued that the commercial rate increase was too much.
Cr Lance Hewlett said the reality was that if commercial rates did not rise, residents would have to pay. “We’re a small city with a big challenge,” he said.
The 8.47 per cent increase in bulk water costs follows an increase of 9.2 per cent last year and about 10 per cent the previous year.
The budget allows for an $82 million capital expenditure program, with roads to soak up $23.64 million, infrastructure $10.77 million and $14.39 million for open space and conservation projects.
A further $14.47 million will be spent on marine and foreshore projects like the Macleay Island ramp carpark, seawall and asbestos capping and canal upgrades.
This year’s budget will break the $300 million mark for the first time.
Cr Williams said residential rate increases were based on the CPI while the environment levy would pay for 1 million trees to be planted.
“It’s all a matter of balance,” Cr Williams said.
More budget, pages 10, 11