Landowners face a rate hike

MOST landowners in Banana Shire Council will face a rate increase of up to 11 per cent after the council handed down its 2010/11 budget yesterday.

Some land uses face up to a 40 per cent increase, while council has also decided to charge coal mining and petroleum activities landowners a different charge to other mining and extractive industry activities.

A council reported this was the case because coal mining and petroleum activities by their nature and size of the operations have a more significant impact on the council and public infrastructure than other types of mining and extractive industries.

Corporate and Community Services director Todd Sleeman said council’s budget included $41 million operating expenditure and $27.8 million capital expenditure.

“As with all budgets there is pressure to find the balance between providing a wide range of vastly different services and facilities to diverse communities throughout the shire and to provide those services both fairly and equitably,” he said.

“This budget has an increased financial impact on today’s ratepayers as well as future ratepayers through an increased debt servicing costs and the intent of council to bring the budget into operating surplus.”

Mayor John Hooper said it was the council’s intention to return the budget to surplus in four to nine years.

“This has been a difficult budget to formulate,” he said. “Council has limited the number of capital projects for this year. Some of those projects will be reintroduced in the next financial year.”

Cr Hooper said one of the projects that would go ahead this financial year was a new sewerage treatment plant at Theodore.

“This project will not proceed without the subsidy from the State Government.”

Cr Vaughn Becker said the State Government, which is now looking at reintroducing subsidies, should have done so earlier, particularly with the proposed State Waste Strategy and Levy.

“They are living in fairy land if they think we can come up with that sort of money in that sort of time frame,” he said.

Waste utility charges have risen to reflect the cost of services and sewerage has risen by four per cent.

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