Rates set to rise as Council passes $141.5 million budget

Mayor Greg Christensen introduced his second annual budget this morning.
Mayor Greg Christensen introduced his second annual budget this morning.

Scenic Rim Regional Council has passed its annual budget, which will see a rate rise of less than three per cent for the vast majority of properties in the region.

But this morning’s special meeting was not without incident, as councillors Duncan McInnes and Rick Stanfield voted against the adoption of the budget. 

Mayor Greg Christensen said he was pleased that council delivered the latest rating outcome in nearly a decade for Scenic Rim households.

“There will be a modest 1.4 per cent rise in the minimum general rate for residential and rural categories,” he said.

“That represents a difference of $16 on your annual rates bill or just 30 cents a week.

“Principal place of residence properties not on the minimum general rate will receive a a two per cent rise.”

Cr Christensen this year’s budget continues to capitalise on the wave of opportunity and optimism throughout the region.

“Our financial settings for the year ahead reflect our accountability for managing the long term sustainabiulity of the region’s asset base,” he said.

“Particularly our roads and bridges, while continuing to provide a pathway for sustainable economic development and growth.”

Council CEO Craig Barke said council’s capacity to fund the important areas of community investment now and into the future was a result of the long term financial stability or the organisation.

“Our credentials as a financially prudent organisation have been independently recognised by the Queensland Audit Office for the past several years, ranking this council at low risk of sustainability problems.

“That’s the highest rating we can possibly achieve.”

But not everyone on council was so excited by the financial plan put forward by the mayor.

Both Cr Duncan McInnes and Cr Rick Stanfield rose to speak against the adoption of the budget, stating that the burden of the overall increase of $1.3million was being shared by a small amount of people.

Cr McInnes said small businesses would see a noticeable increase in their rates, which could put local jobs at risk.

“Businesses like service stations and vegetable farms that make up a large portion of our employment opportunites will see increases in some cases 30 and 40 per cent more than last year,” he said.

“In these situations I put myself in their shoes and say, would I think that’s fair and reasonable and as a councillor can we do things better or differently to lessen the burden on those businesses.

“In previous budgets those businesses may have been paying too little, but to see big increases like this could hurt some operators and I’d hate to see any jobs lost because of that.”

Cr McInnes said these measures had been described as “draconian” to him in some circles.

“It was with a heavy heart that I voted against the budget because I like to see myself as a team player,” he said.

“This is not political, this is about being true to yourself and standing up for the people you represent.”

In his budget speech the mayor outlined several areas of spending:

  • $43 million for disaster restoration in the wake of the floods caused by ex-Cyclone Debbie
  • $30.33 million for roads and bridges
  • $8.45 million for facilities in the region
  • $6.78 million for waste operations
  • $5.87 million for community and culture
  • $4.71 million for health, building and environment
  • $2.96 million for parks and gardens
  • $2.9 million for planning
  • $1.55 million for the Vibrant and Active Towns and Villages program