Ipswich vows to put curb on rates hikes
IPSWICH City Council will launch a long-term financial strategy this month to bring the city's property rates in line with other south east Queensland councils.
A key part of the plan involves progressively holding Ipswich's average property rates increases below the Consumer Price Index over the next several years.
The 2019-20 budget released by council administrator Greg Chemello on June 25 is expected to include an average rates rise for Ipswich below the current CPI of 1.5 per cent.
It is a budget that "retains a reasonable surplus".
This is a drop from the 2.5 per cent rates increase set by council last year but Mr Chemello stressed it would not equal a cut in services.
He said he felt "obliged" in his role to provide a recommended path forward for the elected councillors beyond March 2020 by laying out a "responsible" long-term financial plan.
"We have a 10-year vision which includes holding average rate increases below CPI for at least the next five, possibly seven years," he said.
"Once average rates are more comparable with other south east Queensland councils, rate increases would then be generally set at or around CPI.
"We are setting out a thorough price path for this organisation for the future."
Mr Chemello said the vision was akin to current Federal Government strategies to deliver 10-year budget plans for the nation.
It would encompass Ipswich's 82,000 ratepayers (about 2400 which are non-residential) and an overall population which had recently topped 220,000 and would more than double within 15 years.
But he stressed the significant decrease from last year did not mean normal services would be cut.
"There will be substantial cost savings in some areas, but I see it more as driving efficiency within this organisation and providing better value for money," he said.
"Council will continue to deliver first-class services to everyone.
"The budget prioritises the important needs of the city.
"It allocates money to projects which will enable council to get the job done and to ensure the city is meeting demands imposed upon us all by rapid growth."
Ipswich is one of the fastest growing councils in the country, ranking near the top for growth in Queensland and in the top 10 in Australia.
Mr Chemello said economic prosperity and jobs, good roads, an improved public transport system and public infrastructure are important components which help the city provide for its residents.
"It is a progressive budget, yet responsible. It retains a reasonable surplus, yet addresses compelling needs such as the completion of the Nicholas Street development," he said.
"It ensures the council is delivering basic needs such as waste collection, yet looks to produce a complex business case for a Springfield-Ripley-city rail link.
"It addresses long-overdue governance concerns, yet paves the way for future councillors to develop a healthy, active and engaged community."