Residents put first in Budget for challenging times

Residents remain front and centre of the Mayor and Councillors’ thinking as they finalise the 2023-2024 Budget in some of the most challenging economic conditions in decades, ahead of its delivery on Thursday 22 June 2023.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said the 2023-2024 Budget would continue to deliver a rate increase below the current inflation rate, for the fifth year in a row.

“Council has been contending with extreme economic conditions since its election in 2020, from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine, rising interest rates and the ongoing supply chain and workforce challenges being experienced globally,” Mayor Harding said.

“Now, we are seeing the full effects of these external pressures culminating in one of the most challenging budgets Councillors have had to deliver.

“Anyone who is managing a household budget, or running a business, knows that costs are going up across the board and this is no different to council’s budget.

“As Mayor, I always want the best of everything for our region, but we need to balance this by not over promising and adding to rates in the coming years.

“In a time of a cost-of-living crisis, we like every family are determined to live within our means.

“It is our responsibility to find the balance between the delivery of services to support our growing community and avoiding the burden of extra spending being passed onto the residents and ratepayers of Ipswich.

“Ultimately, the cost of the services, infrastructure and commitments of council are paid for by the ratepayer. While I would ideally like to see everything delivered today not tomorrow, I am mindful we are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis and need to find the right balance for our community.

“Inflation remains above 7 per cent, and the costs of sourcing supplies and delivering services are also continuing to rise. As an example, the cost of building roads and bridges has gone up by nearly 10.8 per cent over the past 12 months and 17 per cent over the past two years.

“Our region is also continuing to deal with the ongoing impacts and recovery efforts of last year’s flood events.”

Mayor Harding said that Councillors were also working to manage costs associated with population growth and the demand for services in the coming Budget.

“There were 88,000 residential dwellings in Ipswich at the end of last financial year, and we expect this number to rise to almost 100,000 in just a few years,” Mayor Harding said.

“Our region’s rapid population growth means more waste bins, more infrastructure, and more demand on all services, from libraries to sporting fields.

“Unfortunately, it will also mean more families doing it tough in a community where the median weekly household income is almost 5 per cent lower than the same figure nationally.”

Mayor Harding said council’s budget discussions had recognised the challenging balancing act facing the city, and that there was some good news ahead for residents.

“We are very aware that any increase in rates does not just affect homeowners but will also flow through to renters who are already doing it pretty tough,” Mayor Harding said.

“Residents should know that, while this has been a challenging budget to prepare, they have been at the forefront of Councillors’ and my thinking as we have been preparing it.

“Over the past four budgets, council has managed to keep rate increases below inflation and we are committed to ensuring this Budget is no different.

“We are working hard to make sure that we do not pass on the full costs of increases we are facing to ratepayers, and that will include limiting any rates increases to below inflation.”

Despite the challenging circumstances, Mayor Harding said the council’s finances were in a sound condition overall.

“Despite the growth challenges and our ongoing commitment to service delivery, the Budget is on track to deliver a small surplus in 2023-2024,” Mayor Harding said.

“We recognise that many residents are struggling in these challenging economic conditions. Information on where to find urgent support is available here.

Read also:

>> Rapid growth requires rapid investment in Ipswich

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