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6 July, 2022

Producers to bear brunt of TRC rate rise

TABLELANDS Regional Council will increase its revenue by 6.1 per cent this year but it will not be residential property owners who will bear the pain, with the vast majority to pay just $8 a year extra in general rates.

By Robyn Holmes

Tablelands Regional Council Deputy Mayor Kevin Cardew, Mayor Rod Marti and CEO Gary Rinehart with the 2022/23 Budget

Instead, the lion’s share of the revenue growth will be borne by owners of primary production or grazing properties, who will pay between $1000-$3500 more in general rates this year. 

In his 2022-23 Budget address, Mayor Rod Marti said the steep rise in rates was reflective of massive hikes in the valuation of primary production land which had increased on average just this year by $119,000 and grazing properties by $650,000. 

“Yet with such variations in valuations, some properties will actually pay less than last year,” he said. 

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

This rating inequity needs to be addressed over time and we’ve made a modest start with this budget.” 

The $96.7 million Budget features a $29.8 million capital works program and $67.8 million for operational expenditure. 

Mayor Marti said in developing the budget, council had been acutely aware of cost-of-living pressures and a surge in growth which had translated to an increase of 9.4 per cent in gross regional product and 5.8 per cent growth in local jobs, topping the region. 

“Our residential building approvals in 2021-22 and 2022-23 will be roughly double the value of the previous two years,” he said. 

“Developers have released an incredible 224 new residential lots and this is only part of our burgeoning construction activity this year. 

“It’s important to ensure we are abreast of and supporting the unprecedented growth and demand in our region.” 

To ensure infrastructure meets the demand, council will invest $33.3 million on roads, bridges, footpaths and drains and $17 million to water projects and programs. 

A common theme flowed throughout the budget meeting of the need for the organisation to conduct a planned service delivery review which all councillors believe will deliver much needed cost-effectiveness and efficiencies. 

“The review is focusing on achieving the best outcomes for the community, and ensuring economic, social and environmental sustainability while supporting our ongoing viability,” Mayor Marti said. 

‘I’m look forward to seeing the advances and improvements we will make over the next 12 months, and into the future,’ said Mayor Marti. 

Cr Dave Bilney described the review as “critical” to being able to continue to meet the community’s expectations whilst remaining financially sustainable. 

“We had no rate increase in 2018-19 and in 2020-21 and today we are playing catch-up,” he said. 

Cr Bernie Wilce also agreed the service review was much needed, particularly given the “huge challenges” the council was facing in areas such as managing their assets. 

Cr David Clifton echoed the comments, but was critical of the rise in rates for larger landholders, which he described as excessive and could have been contained had the organisation “tightened its belt”. 

He was also damning of the way in which council had proceeded with the rise in rates without consulting or engaging with landholders, claiming it represented as “significant lack of transparency”. 

In his comments, Cr Peter Hodge made it clear he was dissatisfied with the level of surplus forecast in the next few years, and, along with Cr Clifton, voted against the adoption of the budget. 

While Deputy Mayor Kevin Cardew said the rise in rates for landholders was “hard to swallow”, he acknowledged that officers had done well to frame the budget “given the hand they had been dealt” and the circumstances out of their control. 

MORE BUDGET NEWS 

Douglas Shire – Page 8 

Cook Shire – Page 12

BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS 

  •  80% of residential and rural lifestyle ratepayers to pay an extra $8 a year 
  • Primary production and grazing properties to pay $1020-$3520 extra a year 
  • Water access charges up by 4.19% 
  • Water usage up by 14 cents a kilolitre
  • Waste charges up by 3.5% 
  • Sewerage access charge up by 5.5% 
  • $29.8 million capital works program
  • $67.8 million for operational expenditure. 
  • $4 million surplus forecast for 2021-22 year

 CAPITAL WORKS SNAPSHOT

  • $14.7 million on roads, bridges and drains including $4 million to complete council’s last section of Ootann Road, $2.5 million for road pavement rehabilitation and gravel resheeting, and $1.9 million for re-sealing 
  • $6.4 million for the Ravenshoe Water Treatment Plant and pipelines to Millstream, Bellview, Cassowary and the booster pump station 
  • $1.7 million for wastewater
  • $3.7 million for parks and gardens including the progression of Prior’s Creek Master Plan, $600,000 for the Ravenshoe Netball Court Shelter, $280,000 on regional entry and First Nations signage and $250,000 for the Herberton Battery Park 
  • $400,000 to finalise the design and commence upgrade to Atherton Skate Park

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