Each week, Mayor Andrew Antoniolli will answer your questions. He’ll tackle about 10 each week, so if your question isn’t answered here, please be patient. He’ll get to most of them soon. Some questions will require research, so they might take a little more time. To ask a question, fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

Mike Rule: Why is it that our rural ratepayers pay the same rateable amount as suburban ratepayers, yet most of rural ratepayers have no bitumen road, curb and channelling, sewage connection and no town water?

Rates are charged to cover services across the whole city, not just one area. As well as roads and other infrastructure, they are used to provide services such as libraries, parks, sporting facilities, community events and community health and safety programs.

I know the issue of gravel roads is of concern in the rural parts of our city which is why we have a program for the strategic upgrade of gravel roads to bitumen. While it would be great to be able to bitumen every gravel road straight away, to do so would be extremely cost prohibitive. A staged rollout allows us to address this issue in a fiscally responsible way.

Jason Mansfield: Fixing the East Street traffic flow problem between Brisbane St and Mansfield Place, driving to Riverlink on East St both lanes need to be open. At the moment one lane is just for turning to Mansfield Place. Opening both lanes will help with the flow until the proposed bridge from Norman Street is built.

Traffic volumes are steadily increasing along key roads leading to the Ipswich city centre, including East Street.  The Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) is responsible for the planning, operation and maintenance of East Street as a State-controlled road. Traffic congestion within the Ipswich CBD is an important issue that Council will continue to work with DTMR to manage. The removal of the slip lane from Mansfield Place to East Street, to create two northbound through traffic lanes on East Street may reduce traffic queues on East Street, however, would introduce significant queues and delays for vehicles (including buses) accessing the East Street from Mansfield Place.

Council is currently planning for the realignment of southern section of Marsden Parade to create a four-way signal controlled intersection with Brisbane Street and Gordon Street. The realignment will facilitate an alternate north – south connection to East Street within the city centre, providing improved network permeability and resilience.  Planning and design activities are currently underway for this project, with construction activities expected to commence within the next two years.

Joan Arnold: Why can’t we have big shopping centres here in Ipswich? Take a look at North Lakes, it is fantastic.

We already have some amazing shopping centres across Ipswich at Orion Springfield, Riverlink and Redbank Plaza, which has recently undergone refurbishment and more is being done there. Orion continues to grow and offers almost everything in comparison to some of the big centres. And what about our unique Top of the Town precinct with its different and eclectic offering of small businesses. I think shoppers love the cross-section we offer there. We also have Bunnings, we have Costco coming and hopefully that might attract other major companies, like the Ikeas of the north and south.

Michael Iagas: I recently bought my first home in Basin Pocket and have upgraded my recycling wheelie bin to the large size for free. Are there any plans to allow the normal refuse bins to be upgraded to that size for free also?

There are no plans to increase general waste as we wish to encourage residents to take advantage of larger recycling and green waste bins. The upsize option is only available for recycling and green waste bins at this stage.

Corey Lendvai: News is out 900 jobs will be lost next month from just two shut downs. What are you going to do to stop the flow of job losses in Ipswich and make it attractive for companies to set up shop here and not leave town? Also on this point, Terry Wendt asks: Are you trying everything in your power to try and save the jobs of the abattoir workers at Churchill and the Steggles workers jobs at Wulkuraka?

We understand it could be up to 750 jobs. Food manufacturing is a strength of our region with increasing demand domestically and globally for our high quality produce. We are hopeful that many of these jobs can be saved or re-created by securing investment and export markets.

Ipswich has a diverse and growing economy and labour market.  It is an attractive location for businesses as demonstrated by the Costco and Rheinmetall announcements last week. Our Office of Economic Development works to support local business growth, business and investment attraction, and the development of our key industries.

Council has been working closely with the Queensland Government to organise a staff information day this week for affected Churchill Abattoir workers and is in the early stages of planning something similar for Baiada Steggles. We have been seeking information on job vacancies from other local businesses and have received some good responses.

Heidi: My question is regarding the recent Four Corners program on the ABC and its revelations about the dumping of rubbish in our city by other states, including asbestos, and that the rubbish is constantly smouldering and smells. Do you have any plans to improve the way we deal with our rubbish? Can we use our rubbish in new ways to generate power? Are our recycling efforts the best they can be? Mary Styles also asks: What will you do to end the dumping of NSW rubbish in Ipswich?

I’ve recently met with the Dr Stephen Miles, Queensland’s Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef, and discussed this very issue. The State Government has launched a three-month independent investigation into the transport of waste into Queensland and it is taking the issue very seriously. We’ll continue to work closely with the state on this issue and keep residents updated.

We have several green sustainability initiatives, including voluntary green waste service (kerbside collection to a composting facility); kerbside collection for recycling; education at schools where learners receive information on waste and waste as resource; and commercial waste recycling (paper, card board). And there will be discussions between myself, councillors and council staff in the near future to rethink waste as a resource and to identify alternatives, if any, on how to deal with waste.

Heather: There’s concern regarding public transport in Ipswich – public and driver safety with hostile commuters as well as the inconvenience of insufficient bus services and bus stops providing shelter or seating. Will this be addressed to support a growing city?

The provision, management and operation of public transport services in Ipswich is the core responsibility of the State Government and its public transport operators. However, given the projected population growth for Ipswich, Council is also currently developing an iGO Public Transport Advocacy and Action Plan which will push for public transport service improvements in Ipswich. Council is currently working with the State on updating bus stops across the city so that they are up to standard and disability compliant. Our Safe City camera network also provides valuable support to the Queensland Police should safety issues arise at key public transport nodes.

Leanne: I’m still hoping you and your Council are going to stop spending over $50,000 on staff and friends going to Dreamworld, and not even spent in Ipswich. Is this going to stop?

This event is not going ahead. Council is reconsidering its Staff Thankyou Day and has formed a working party to consider options going forward.

Adrian Barnett: My unrenovated two-bedroom house is about $1600 per annum in Council rates, when the average is only about $1200. Clearly it’s because it’s a rental property. A recent High Court ruling reinforced that the two-tier rates system is illegal. Also, my water rates are about $1300 per annum, which is pure extortion.

The average rates bill in 2017-2018 for a residential owner-occupier is approximately $1,540.  Land use and valuations are the two factors that have a significant influence in the calculation of Council’s rates and valuations can vary significantly across the City.  Council’s differential rating system does recognise that some residential land uses (rental properties) have the capacity to generate revenue while other residential land uses (owner-occupied properties) do not have the capacity to produce revenue.

In July 2010 Queensland Urban Utilities assumed responsibility for the water and sewerage functions for Ipswich.  Since that time the pricing of water and sewerage charges have continued to be administered by Queensland Urban Utilities.

Similarly, from Mohan: When should we expect Council rates to decrease and reduce the burden on residents. Brisbane rates are almost 50 per cent less than here.

The comparison of general rates across different local government areas is very difficult and is influenced significantly by the valuations of the respective local government areas. A across Ipswich some properties pay above the average and some less. The same is also true in other local government areas.  The average valuation in Ipswich has historically been less than the average valuation for Brisbane.

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