How Ipswich City Council is working to keep rates down

Ipswich City Council will launch a strategy that aims to “normalise” property rates in Ipswich to be more comparable with other Southeast Queensland councils within the next seven years.

The cornerstone of the strategy is a long term financial plan to progressively hold the city’s average property rates increases below the Consumer Price Index (CPI) each year for the next seven years.

The 2019-20 Budget to be released by Interim Administrator Greg Chemello on June 25 is expected to include an average rates rise for Ipswich below the current CPI of 1.5 per cent.

That is significantly less than the 2.5 per cent rates increase delivered by council last year.

Mr Chemello said that, as an Interim Administrator, he felt obliged to provide a recommended path forward for the elected councillors beyond March 2020 by laying out a responsible long term financial plan: savings for ratepayers and residents, a council sticking to its budget, and continued growth across the region, which had been unprecedented in recent years.

“We have a 10-year vision which includes holding average rate increases below CPI for at least the next five, possibly seven years. Once average rates are more comparable with other Southeast Queensland councils, rate increases would then be generally set at or around CPI,” he said.

“We are setting out a thorough price path for this organisation for the future.”

Mr Chemello, appointed by the State Government last August to run council, said the vision was akin to current Federal Government strategies to deliver 10-year budget plans for the nation.

In Ipswich’s case, it was aimed at the 82,000 ratepayers (about 2400 non-residential) and overall population which had recently topped 220,000 and would more than double within 15 years.

Mr Chemello said the significant decrease from last year did not mean normal services would be cut by council to the Ipswich community.

“There will be substantial cost savings in some areas, but I see it more as driving efficiency within this organisation and providing better value for money. Council will continue to deliver first-class services to everyone.”

“The budget prioritises the important needs of the city.

“It allocates money to projects which will enable council to get the job done and to ensure the city is meeting demands imposed upon us all by rapid growth.”

Mr Chemello acknowledged that Ipswich is one of the fastest growing councils in Australia. The city ranked near the top in Queensland in terms of growth and in the top 10 nationally.

He said economic prosperity and jobs, good roads, an improved public transport system and public infrastructure are important components which help the city provide for its constituents.

“It is a progressive budget, yet responsible. It retains a reasonable surplus, yet addresses compelling needs such as the completion of the Nicholas Street development,” he said.

“It ensures the council is delivering basic needs such as waste collection, yet looks to produce a complex business case for a Springfield-Ripley-city rail link.

“It addresses long-overdue governance concerns, yet paves the way for future councillors to develop a healthy, active and engaged community.”

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