Council on track to deliver annual city budget

Big numbers and big expectations come together every 12 months when Ipswich City Council reveals its annual budget for the new financial year.

In the media spotlight are rate increases and spending on major infrastructure.

Putting together the annual council budget is the responsibility of the city’s General Manager of Corporate Services, Andrew Knight, supported by a team of experienced financial professionals from across the organisation.

The work of bringing together each budget starts soon after the handing down of the annual set of financial statements from the previous year, usually in September/October.

Mr Knight said council revenue came from more than one source.

“The popular misconception is that rates pay for everything,” he said.

“Whilst the majority of revenue comes from rates, there are generally six main revenue streams for a council.

“These include rates and charges, fees, permits and regulations, grants and subsidies, loans, and developer contributions and charges levied by council on land being developed.

“In Ipswich rates and charges account for approximately 68 per cent of all operating revenue.

“Last year that was the equivalent of $189 million from a total operating revenue budget of $279 million.

  • Total revenue Ipswich City Council 2018-2019 operational budget ($279 million) 100% 100%
  • Ipswich rates and charges collected as a percentage of total 2018-2019 operational budget ($189 million) 68% 68%

“The city has $2.8 billion of assets to manage. These assets, apart from some exceptions, do not earn or support income as they would do for a private sector business.

“Importantly, current ratepayers generally do not pay for new roads and parks in newer suburbs such as those being developed in the Ripley Valley and Springfield regions of Ipswich.

“The private developers of these estates must pay their own way and build new infrastructure before land is sold for residential or commercial use.

“In general, new streets, kerb and channelling, parks, and drainage are not funded by Ipswich City Council in these new suburbs, however once established these assets are maintained by council.”

Mr Knight’s strong credentials in economics and accounting helped him secure the role of the city’s Corporate Services chief four months ago.

He came to Ipswich from Mackay Regional Council where he was director of Organisational Services.

“Ensuring Ipswich City Council’s financial sustainability into the future is a key focus. Despite some recent setbacks, our solid numbers and consistent growth are the envy of many other councils in Queensland.

“The annual set of accounts is audited by the Queensland Audit Office and the current budget of $515 million is the second biggest in the city’s history.

“As we look to the finish line for handing down the 2019-2020 budget we expect total budget to be in excess of $450 million,” he said.

Thanks to dedicated and hardworking staff, the business of council continued to move the city forward under an Interim Administrator since councillors were dismissed by the state government last year.

Mr Knight said the next budget would likely to have a strong focus on the continued delivery of the CBD redevelopment (Nicolas St), maintaining council’s existing assets and continued investment in infrastructure to support the city’s growth.

Council also has a number of responsibilities under the Local Government Act which include providing recreational facilities like parks, bikeways, libraries and administering the planning scheme.

Ipswich residents have an expectation of value for money and for their council to deliver on essentials such as roads, rubbish collections, libraries, parks, gardens, sports facilities and planning.

“The city is in a sound financial position to allow for continued delivery of community programs and high quality services for Ipswich and its residents,” Andrew Knight said.

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