Decade of pain for Gladstone region ratepayers flagged

GLADSTONE ratepayers are set to be hit with a 5% increase in rates year on year for the next decade, and the council is blaming the State Government for the move.

The council adopted a new long-term financial plan on Tuesday, and along with it a recognition that rates would likely need to go up by 5% year on year for the next 10 years for residential ratepayers.

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The council said that a State Government move in 2011 to cap the level of infrastructure charges it can get from home developers at $28,000 per new block meant that it was facing a massive shortfall in revenue, and part of the tab would have to be picked up by ratepayers.

"We will have to raise rates, and it's a concern to all of council because we're put in this position because of the capping of infrastructure charges," Mayor Gail Sellers said.

She said that council development costs to supply essential services ran up to $45,000 per block in Gladstone, meaning that the difference was hitting its revenue.

"We've been fighting this for at least 12 months, maybe longer," Cr Sellers said.

"At the moment the shortfall stands at $5 million (per year), but that's only increasing and it's not going away so we have to make up that revenue."

Cr Sellers said she was aware that rate rises would cause some angst in the community, but believed that ratepayers recognised the rate hikes were needed rather than being a cynical revenue-raising exercise.

"I think ratepayers appreciate the fact that we do have to pay more for development. I believe that we've kept them fully aware of that," Cr Sellers said.

In response to the criticism, the State Government said it was in the middle of reviewing how much local governments could reap from home developers for providing essential services. 

"This review aims to strike the right balance between development feasibility, local government sustainability and an appropriate standard of facilities and services for local communities," Acting Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Andrew Walker said.

"The Newman Government understands that infrastructure charge reform is a complex issue and we are making every effort to ensure we get it right. 

"We hope to have a revised framework in place by mid-2014."
 



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