BUDGET 2017: 1.26% average rates rise for Gladstone residents
GLADSTONE homeowners who suffered most in their last land valuation will have the same rates bill this year, or possibly lower.
Today the Gladstone Regional Council will hand down its "back to basics" budget, announcing an average general rates increase of 1.26%.
But while 54% of ratepayers will have their next bill stay the same or be reduced, 21% will be 6-10% higher than last year's rates.
Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett said he was proud of his second budget for the region.
Cr Burnett described setting rates as a "balancing act" with Gladstone being particularly tricky because of the fluctuation in land valuations.
In the most recent land valuations for the region there was a decrease of 23.4%, which takes the average land value to $125,662 for 21,800 properties.
Shedding light on who could be in for a rates reduction, Cr Burnett said it was likely to be residents who lost the most during their last valuation.
"If your valuation decreased by more than the average, (23.4%) there's a strong chance you'll get a rate the same or decrease," Cr Burnett said.
Asked if a smaller rates increase for more properties was ever on the table, Cr Burnett said it was not possible.
"I've thought the exact same thing but the fluctuations are so big, so it's not fair to do that because someone's property valuation could have dropped $100,000 after they've been paying a higher rate for a lot of years," he said.
"Now their valuation is down, aren't they entitled to pay a lesser rate now after paying more for so long?
"It takes away the integrity of the entire system if we manipulate it any more."
The "most exciting" change in this year's council budget according to Cr Burnett is a six-monthly split bill for water and sewerage charges.
Now ratepayers will receive half of their water and sewerage bills with their rates notice, and the other half in a separate bill in February.
"We're doing that to help people manage their rates more," he said.
The budget will be delivered this morning after a spate of rate rises announced by other local councils.
In Moreton Bay rates went up 3.99%, Bundaberg is bracing for a 3.45% rise and Mackay had an increase of 2.5%.
"We are absolutely trying our hardest to support the local economy by reducing the costs for residents," Cr Burnett said.
"We've kept our costs below CPI and we're trying to offer residents the option of reduced bills by splitting it."
Cr Burnett will use the term "back to basics" when he unveils the 2017-18 budget.
"Because that's what it is, it's focusing on roads, rubbish and water," he said.
"We're focusing our money on the things like road upgrades, water, piping, reservoirs, rural roads and land fill upgrades. It's not pretty, but it's the basics that councils are meant to supply."
Go live for the full budget this morning at gladstoneobserver.com.au