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16 June, 2022

Mayor flags tough budget for TRC

TABLELANDS Regional Council will hand down its 2022-23 Budget next week and Mayor Rod Marti has moved to set the public’s expectations ahead of budget day on 23 June.

By Robyn Holmes

Mayor Rod Marti flags tough budget for TRC

Describing the times as “challenging”, Mayor Marti said property owners should be prepared for general rates to rise again this year as council’s costs continue to soar.

“We have significant cost-of-living issues across the board and this is confirmed with the recent CPI of 5.1 per cent,” he said. 

“While the CPI doesn’t apply neatly to council’s business, the industry cost index used by all councils reveals a similar or higher cost increase. 

“Last year, we experienced an increase in land valuations from the Valuer General that resulted in rate increases for some properties. 

“The averaging tool that council applied last year softened the increase for most properties, but further rate rises will still be felt for properties that experienced exceptional valuation increases. 

“Having said that, council is committed to containing rises for residential properties in order to address inequity in council’s rates burden across the various rate categories. 

“The community can expect that rates will rise on the basis that it’s not time to reduce or constrain council’s critical services, rather it’s time to ensure that council is abreast of and supporting unprecedented demand. 

“This does not mean that we won’t also be looking closely at operating costs, as well as seeking to contain impacts for as many residents as possible. 

“And as stated, the second year of rates averaging is still to unfold in 22-23 for those affected by the increases to land valuations of last year.” 

Mayor Marti said the local government area had experienced an increase of 9.4 per cent in Gross Regional Product and local jobs had grown by 5.8 per cent over the year. 

“These figures top the Far North Queensland region. Our residential building approvals in both 2020-21 and 2021-22 will be roughly double in value what they were in the previous two years,” he said. 

“This year we have released an incredible 224 new residential lots. Of course, residential is only one part our burgeoning construction activity. 

“While residential properties account for 24 per cent of our land values, their rates contribution equated to 33 per cent of rates revenue. 

This inequity needs to be rectified over time, and the best time to get started is right now.” 

At its recent meeting, the reduction in State Government financial assistance grants was a focus of discussion, with Cr David Clifton wanting to ensure the community was aware of the situation. 

CEO Gary Rinehart advised he would be meeting with the Grants Commissioner on 16 June to ascertain why the annual funding was being cut. 

“The Local Government Association of Queensland, on behalf of all councils, has been seeking unsuccessfully to get the Grants Commission to open its black box a little bit to provide a detailed explanation around that and we will be in a better place to make a definitive response when we have direct advice from the Commissioner after that meeting on 16 June,” he told the council. 

Mareeba Shire Council will not deliver its 2022- 23 Budget until July, with new valuations for the shire having to be taken into account as part of the rates modelling being undertaken by the finance department. 

Mayor Angela Toppin has already stated that the council is committed to a 2.5 per cent rise in general rates. 

The budget is also expected to feature a capital works program that will focus on improving or renewing water infrastructure throughout the shire as part of a long-term program. 

But Mayor Toppin has flagged the need to reduce the capital works program and possibly some services due to the soaring costs of materials and a 20 per cent cut in financial grants from the State. 

The grants are used to fund day-to-day operations of the organisation.

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