I am pleased to deliver the 2019/20 Financial Year Budget. It is the last budget for this current term of Council and has maintained our focus of delivering the essential, yet maybe basic, infrastructure and services for our diverse region.
Managing the diverse expectations of all of our residents, meeting essential needs and taking into account affordability of rates is not an easy task, yet one that Council works extremely hard to balance.
Council is no different to any other business when it comes to economic downturn, cost increases, finding efficiencies and making sound decisions around its capital investment. In addition to these factors, while the Council is most appreciative of the funding assistance from the Federal and State Governments the ongoing nature of that assistance is something that this Council will continue to lobby for, along with the Local Government Association of Queensland, as any change in these funds affects both service delivery and capital expenditure.
Preparation of the 2019/2020 financial year commenced in late November 2018. During this time Council held 14 workshops to understand and debate all elements of the budget. There was a significant information exchange during this time and I can assure our ratepayers that no stone was left unturned in terms of understanding the revenue and expenditure requirements for the coming year.
The result of all of these considerations is a $66 million operational budget and a $20.8 million capital budget which is achievable and what Council believes to be investing in those projects and services that are for the best interest of our region.
The Local Government Regulation 2012 requires that the budget include the total value of the change, expressed as a percentage, in the rates and utility charges levied for the financial year compared with the rates and utility charges levied in the previous budget. Council’s total rates and utility charges revenue is projected to increase by 4.04% in 2019/20 compared with the rates and utility charges levied in 2018/19.
In addition to the above charges Council will be introducing an Extractive Industry Special Charge for newly approved extractive industries in the region. Along with this a review of the differential rates for Windfarms has also been undertaken.
The increase in the differential general rates will not exactly translate to a 1.9% even increase across every property. This year Council received a new valuation for the South Burnett. The recent revaluations from the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy has resulted in significant variations in valuations for properties in the Council area. In terms of the rating affect due to the variation, Council fully investigated all options available to smooth this rating affect. The smoothing tools currently utilised by Council and which are utilised to mitigate rating variations are Three Year Valuation Averaging and Rate Capping. Three Year Valuation Averaging of the valuations facilitates an incremental change in rates for affected properties over the next three years. While Rate Capping limits the annual increase which might be applied to properties. Council’s current cap is set at 30%. Moreover, as mentioned above Council investigated all options to manage the variations of the recently released unimproved land valuations.