Local News

Ratepayers Face 2% Rates Increase In 2019/20 Budget


Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Townsville's 2019/20 Budget has been unveiled and includes a rate rise of two per-cent.

The average Townsville homeowner will pay an extra 55 cents per week on their general rates and 69 cents per week on utilities bills.

Mayor Jenny Hill said she was proud to deliver her third consecutive balanced budget, with a projected surplus of $0.4 million. 

“Strong financial management and removing inefficiencies within Council has allowed us to deliver a balanced budget with a modest 2% rate rise,” Cr Hill said.

“The Consumer Price Index increase for the last calendar year was 1.8%, so Council is again delivering rises near the most recent full-year inflation rate.

“The cost of goods purchased by Council to deliver services and infrastructure projects is increasing by more than the standard inflation rate, so it’s a strong result to keep rates and utility charges rises to just 2%.” 

The Mayor also said that reforms and removing red tape will save ratepayers $38 million in operational expenditure over four financial years.

The 2019/20 Budget details the amount saved through reforms and cutting red tape included in the Transformation of Council.

Cr Hill said Council’s 2019-20 Budget will inject $838.1 million into the local economy. 

“The operating Budget to provide Council’s services to the community is $429 million and we are investing $409.1 million on infrastructure and capital projects,” Cr Hill said. 

“Debt has been reduced over this term of Council, while at the same time delivering major infrastructure investments to build our city’s future.”

Governance and Finance Committee Chair Cr Verena Coombe said residents will remain able to access the early payment discount of 10% for their rates – which is utilised by about 90% of residents.

“Council has also retained some of the most generous pensioner discounts in Queensland with eligible homeowners to receive up to $800 off their rates bills annually,” Cr Coombe said.

“This Budget ensures Council continues to deliver its high level of services to the community while keeping cost increases modest.”

Council will invest $89.1 million fixing, maintaining and building new roads, pathways and bus stops throughout Townsville – as part of the $409.1 million infrastructure spend in the 2019/20 Budget.

Mayor Hill said Council is dedicated to improving and building the infrastructure needed for the growth of the city and create jobs for locals.

“The 2019/20 Budget will continue to deliver on major transport projects that will keep Townsville moving and build for our future,” Cr Hill said.

“That’s why we are investing in projects like the Rendle Street upgrade with $1.3 million dedicated to renewing the road following the stormwater improvements conducted in 2018/19.

“We’ve also put aside $1.5 million for sealing roads in rural areas because we know quality roads are important for all residents – whether they live in the city, the suburbs or in a rural area.”

Other key projects include a $1.6m upgrade of Odgen Street and $2.5m for road renewals on 19 roads across Townsville.

This is in addition to the funding Council is expecting from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority following the unprecedented monsoon.

Infrastructure Committee Chair Cr Mark Molachino said a quality road and footpath network is important for creating an accessible city.

“Council’s existing transport networks include 1,800km of road and 537km of pathways – we are dedicated to continuing to build for our future by investing in these vital infrastructure assets.

“Our roads did take a blow during the unprecedented monsoon and Council is working to secure further funding to ensure we build them back better and more resilient.

“There has been more than $1.2 billion allocated to infrastructure and capital projects throughout this term of Council – which has played an important role in supporting the economy and local jobs.”

The $89.1 million invested in transport services includes all secured funding and donated assets.

The Mayor said community safety is also a top priority, with $13.3 million being invested to keep residents safe.

Council’s community safety programs include a dedicated Community Safety Officer, operating CCTV across the city, community response vehicles and community events such as Cyclone Sunday.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said Council is committed to keeping residents safe through a number of initiatives that will continue to be funded in the Budget. 

“Council has invested $13.3 million in the 2019/20 Budget to ensure our community stays safe,” Cr Hill said.

“This funding includes the installation and operation of CCTV, the operation of our community response vehicles, and improved lighting across the city.

“This investment includes $8.7 million to improve footpaths, traffic signals and play equipment for the safety of the community starting when they first step out the front door until they make it back home.”

Community and Cultural Development Committee Chair Cr Colleen Doyle said education programs also play a crucial role in community safety. 

“Council will continue running our community programs such as Cyclone Sunday to educate residents on how to protect themselves and their families during a natural disaster,” Cr Doyle said.

“We want all residents to be equipped and ready to handle a cyclone or other disaster and foster a community spirit where all residents can check in on their neighbours.”

Community Safety Advisory Committee Chair Cr Russ Cook said Council wants to ensure residents and visitors are safe no matter where they are in Townsville.

“This funding commitment ensure that Council can continue to prioritise the safety of the community and support other crime prevention organisations – including partnering with the Queensland Police,” Cr Cook said. 

“This community safety investment also includes the running of the Local Disaster Coordination Centre – which played a pivotal role in the unprecedented monsoon.”

Community Health and Environment Committee Chair Cr Ann-Maree Greaney said the community safety investment is on top of other programs for the safety of all residents and visitors to the community. 

“On top of the $13.3 million being invested into community safety, Council is also spending $1.65 million for lifeguards on our patrolled beaches to keep our beachgoers safe,” Cr Greaney said.

“We will also continue to install and maintain stinger nets at beaches right across the community so everyone can enjoy our beautiful beaches year-round.” 

Other community safety highlights include:

  • White Ribbon Accreditation
  • Neighbour Day
  • Maintaining the public safety duress button at Riverway
  • Street art activations and a Graffiti Management Plan
  • Maintenance and activation of public spaces – including infrastructure, events and activities to create engaging spaces
  • Community safety awareness campaigns such as Road Safety Week, Mental Health Week and White Ribbon Day.

Another $15 million will be spent on delivering major events and supporting arts and culture in our community.

The investment includes Council delivering the inaugural North Australian Festival of Arts (NAFA), continuing the successful Townsville Eats, Carols by Candlelight and many more events.

The $15 million also includes Budget allocations to operate CityLibraries Townsville and Townsville City Galleries.

$24.5 million in funding has also been set aside for dozens of community infrastructure projects through the Queensland Government’s Works for Queensland program. 

Council will allocate Works for Queensland funding to help deliver some of the major parks and open spaces infrastructure projects in the 2019/20 Budget.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said one of the key projects funded by the program will be the $3.6 million Riverway Splash Water Park – which is expected to create 30 local jobs.

“The Riverway Splash Water Park is a great example of how Council is delivering the best experiences for families in our suburbs,” Cr Hill said.

“The concept design includes four new zones – the Billabong, The Shallows, Lily Pad Waterfall Forrest and Inquisitive Play Area which will cater for families with young children.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said Works for Queensland had a great track record of kickstarting jobs and investment in Townsville.

“The Palaszczuk Government will continue to work with Townsville City Council to deliver new infrastructure that supports employment in the local community,” he said.

Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper said the Riverway Splash Water Park will be a huge hit with locals.

"This is an amazing project and it will make the much-loved Riverway precinct even better," Mr Harper said. 

"This is another great collaboration between the Queensland Government and the Townsville City Council.

"Works for Queensland is about delivering first-class community infrastructure right throughout our suburbs and the Riverway Splash Water Park is one of the best examples of the program working for the community."

Infrastructure Committee Chair Cr Mark Molachino thanked the Queensland Government for their investment in improving Townsville’s community spaces.

“Works for Queensland is a great partnership between the State Government and Council to deliver world-class infrastructure projects that are building for our future while creating jobs for locals,” Cr Molachino said.

“Upgrading parks and open spaces throughout our community has been a major focus of this Council and I’m very proud to be part of a team delivering the Riverway Splash Water Park.”

Local Councillor Verena Coombe said construction is expected to start before the end of the year. 

“I’m sure Townsville residents are excited that such an important community project is getting underway,” Cr Coombe said.

“Riverway is a much loved community asset and Council is making it even better so that many more families can enjoy the area.

“Council is committed to ensuring all residents have access to free, family friendly experiences and will continue to invest in first class facilities and infrastructure right across the City.”