Rates rise and $1 million deficit in Scenic Rim council budget

QUESTIONS: Mayor Greg Christensen delivered the budget report and took questions at the public forum today. Photo: Larraine Sathicq
QUESTIONS: Mayor Greg Christensen delivered the budget report and took questions at the public forum today. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

SCENIC Rim rates will rise by an average of $12 for about 60 per cent of residences, with the council budget brought down this week showing the region will end the year with a $1 million deficit.

Scenic Rim Regional Council mayor Greg Christensen said the deficit was a bitter pill and a big hit to the balance sheet but he expected it to be corrected next year.

"For the first time in quite a while we are declaring a deficit of a million dollars," he said.

"I believe the decision to accept the deficit achieves the right balance. Now it's there, it's not scary but it's disappointing."

The budget increases general rates, waste disposal and infrastructure charges and adds a levy to support the Rural Fire Brigade in some areas.

Cr Christensen said council would raise $55 million through rates and charges, with most rates category increases capped at one per cent.

"For an owner-occupied residence on the minimum general rate of $1215 this represents an increase of $12 annually or 23 cents per week," he said.

"Around 32 per cent of residential properties, including principal and non-principal place of residence will not experience an increase in general rates in 2019-20.

"The rate in the dollar for principal place of residence properties will reduce a further 3.78 per cent, which is back to the lowest value for five years."

Cr Christensen said the budget had been a collaborative effort and not all decisions would be popular.

"People always want the piece (of road work) in front of their place done first but that's not how it's going to work," he said. "We will make the hard calls because they are the right calls."

This year's budget will be the last for this council, with local government elections scheduled for March 29, 2020.

A council budget forum on Wednesday looked at infrastructure and planning.

Cr Christensen said the deficit occurred through changes in asset valuations and a reversal of the accounting treatment for road re-sheeting which produced a negative nett effect of $3 million, with most of it offset by savings from council's Refresh Refocus initiative, which saw changes to council's executive structure and management teams.

"We could have cut programs or raised rates even further but we recognised the pressure the community is under," he said.

"We accepted the deficit but I am confident that we'll generate savings this year and we will not be a deficit based council beyond this year."

Cr Christensen said major projects including the Beaudesert Business Park and revitalisation of the Beaudesert Town Centre would create jobs.

"We need development, we need meaningful jobs or our youth have told us they will leave the region," he said.

"We live in the most beautiful part of Australia and we have the resources to contribute to the growth of Queensland."

Cr Christensen became emotional during the delivery of the budget, expressing pride in the region's accomplishments and disappointment at the state government's failure to allocate funds for the Mount Lindesay Highway in the Queensland budget released yesterday.

Additional charges in the budget included:

  • Rural fire brigade special charge of $12 per rates notice for properties in areas including Aratula, Allandale, Cannon Creek, Croftby/Carney's Creek, Kalbar, Maroon, Mt Alford, Mt French, Mutdapilly, Mt Walker, Roadvale, Rosevale, Tarome and Warrill View
  • Rural fire brigade special charge of $33 per rates notice for properties in areas including Beechmont, Biddaddaba, Birnam, Canungra, Cedar Creek/Wolffdene, Kerry, Rathdowney, Tamborine Mountain, Tamborine and Woodhill
  • Kerbside waste disposal charges to increase by three per cent to $372 per rateable assessment for 240 litre dual waste and recycling bins. Additional general waste bins will cost $203 and an extra recycling bin will cost $169
  • Charges for commercial 240 litre bins will be $572 with extra bins costing $384 and $187.50 for recycling
  • Separate charge: community infrastructure towards road and bridge infrastructure maintenance will be $322 per rates notice

Budget highlights included:

  • $13.13 million for the Vibrant and Active Towns program with $10.72 million, including $5 million from the state government for the expansion of the Beaudesert Business Park in Enterprise Drive
  • $1.7 million for revitalisation of the Beaudesert Town Centre
  • $16 million for upgrades and renewal of 13 roads and eight bridges with matching funding from the Queensland government
  • $36.7 million for capital works including $11.98 million for roads, $530,000 for drainage, $754,000 for footpaths, $4.08 million for bridges, $1.25 million for council facilities and $13.13 million for the Vibrant and Active Towns and Villages program