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Council defends latest rate rise

Sunshine Coast mayor Bob Abbot and council CEO John Knaggs listen intently during budget deliberations. Photo: Jason Dougherty
Sunshine Coast mayor Bob Abbot and council CEO John Knaggs listen intently during budget deliberations. Photo: Jason Dougherty

The Sunshine Coast council’s 2009-10 budget handed down this week hits ratepayers with a 6.3% rise in the minimum rate, from $818 to $870.

Mayor Bob Abbot said yesterday that the average urban ratepayer would pay $160 a year more – about $3 a week – but ratepayers in some of Noosa’s most expensive areas are facing a hike of $250 a year.

Increases in the cost of water (up 14%), sewerage (up 6.4%) and wheelie bins (up 10.5% to 10.7%), plus the new $20 transport levy, will cause many household rates bills to break the $2000 barrier.

Allowing for average water use, rates bills with on-time payment discounts will vary from $1950 for a property with a land value of $200,000 to $3350 for a property with a land value of $750,000.

Increased water charges will not be introduced until January, 2010.

Mr Abbot said more than half of all urban rises were due to the state government’s cost-shifting and scrapping of subsidies.

He said the budget was written amid tough economic times, but with an eye to its vision of sustainability and maintaining jobs.

Capital works expenditure will be increased from $163 million to $251 million – out of a $751 million overall budget – “to keep money flowing through the local economy”.

Though borrowings would be $25 million, they would not be used for recurring expenses.

“The general rate rise is 1% higher than what the local government index ... (recommends), but in light of state government cuts of $2 million this year and $4 million the next, it’s a good result,” Mr Abbot said.

The council had a target of $13 million in annual savings.

More than $70 million has been allocated to transport spending, including sealing roads and providing more cycle and pedestrian paths.

A $20 transport levy has been introduced to attract state government funding for a public transport system.

COOLUM EXPENDITURE ALLOCATION:

 Caravan park upgrade - $395,000;

 sports complex upgrade - $200,000;

 aquatic centre upgrade - $170,000;

 Coolum Village urban design masterplan: stages 1, 2 and 3 - $120,000;

 South Coolum Road bikeway - $110,000;

 civic centre upgrade - $50,000;

 David Low Way streetlighting - $50,000

 information centre (replace decking) - $30,000

 Coolum Resource Recovery Centre construction - $2,000,000

 Sunshine Motorway (land purchase) - $1,600,000;

 Coolum landfill decommissioning - $700,000


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