The new Sunshine Coast Regional Council will soon hand down its first budget. Those of us who paid our rates to Maroochy shire last time are facing almost a 9% rise this time around. Noosa’s ratepayers can expect a hike of just under 10%.
With petrol prices skyrocketing and flowing on to just about everything we buy, ratepayers are not happy at the proposed increase.
Councillors claim they have been short-changed by the state government which forced them to amalgamate, while the government says blaming amalgamation is just a “smokescreen”.
Here is what the main players have had to say:
Sunshine Coast mayor
“Like all households, we are facing major cost increases from the petrol price surge. Every cent that petrol increases adds more than $28,000 to the council’s bottom line in direct costs.
“At the same time, the state government has short changed the new Sunshine Coast council in relation to the value it paid for our water assets. The council will receive compensation of $92 million but even the state government auditors signed off that the value of those water assets was $112 million – a short-fall of $20 million.”
“All of this has happened less than three months into the amalgamation.
“While we are still on track to deliver a budget by 3 July, I wouldn’t want the community to underestimate the challenge this new council faces.”
Local Government minister
“I am concerned by some of the reports I am hearing about rate increases being necessary because of the council mergers. There is no need at all for this to happen. It would be completely unjustified.
“If anything, ratepayers should be asking if they will receive a rates rebate.”
President, Local Government Association of Queensland
“The government has said it will provide no ongoing funding over the three-year transition period to March, 2011.
“If councils don’t lift their rates to balance their budgets and provide the services ratepayers are demanding, they will not be doing business responsibly.”
President, Organisation of Sunshine Coast Associations of Residents
“We’ve had great concern from those who are going to be struggling.
“It proves the lie of the Premier that amalgamation would lower costs. We said from the start there is no way it could.”