No-frills to 3.7 per cent rise in rates

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - ANGELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

RATEPAY­ERS can ex­pect an av­er­age in­crease of 3.7 per cent when they check their mail­box next week, de­pend­ing on land val­u­a­tions.

Gen­eral rates are go­ing up an av­er­age 3.7 per cent and util­ity charges an­other 3.7 per cent, or around $73 in to­tal, af­ter the new Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil handed down this fi­nan­cial year’s bud­get ear­lier this week.

Mayor Bob Man­ning gave a fore­warn­ing in his in­tro­duc­tory speech in the bud­get to ex­pect rates to pos­si­bly rise 5 per cent the next fi­nan­cial year to counter a deficit this year of $6.6 mil­lion.

He said coun­cil’s over­all yield from rates will be 3.7 per cent, the .7 per cent to al­low for the cost of the car­bon tax, which means sub­sidised hous­ing will pay less and higher value prop­er­ties will pay more.

“Next year the rate in­crease will de­pend upon what growth we’ve had in coun­cil, if we have any new sub­di­vi­sion and new prop­er­ties pay­ing rates, if it’s fairly strong growth it will lessen the in­crease in rates,” he said.

“I would es­ti­mate we should get a lit­tle bit of growth and that will bring our re­quired rate ad­just­ment back a lit­tle bit but at this stage of the game it’s best to be con­ser­va­tive and say 4 to 5 per cent, it de­pends on eco­nomic con­di­tions.”

Mayor Man­ning said if eco­nomic con­di­tions worsen then coun­cil will look at cut­ting costs even more but “fore­cast­ing is a very tricky busi­ness”.

The bud­get has pro­posed to­tal oper­at­ing ex­penses will be $298.37 mil­lion with a deficit of $6.6 mil­lion and the coun­cil aims to bring the bud­get back into bal­ance dur­ing the 2013-14 fi­nan­cial year.

“When you look at the over­all bud­get there are no real big ticket items in it be­cause this is not the time, I doubt you are go­ing out to buy a new car this year or house, I’m in the same boat and coun­cil is in the same boat too,” Mr Man­ning said.

“It’s about be­ing pru­dent and care­ful, this is not the time to be tak­ing risks but we also don’t want to in­crease the un­em­ploy­ment prob­lem by pulling back on work.

“If we start to see eco­nomic con­di­tions im­prov­ing and start to see con­fi­dence re­turn­ing to the busi­ness sec­tor then coun­cil too can start to spend a lit­tle bit more.”

Do not for­get to pay your rates be­fore the due date - if over­due, in­ter­est will be charged at the rate of 11 per cent per an­num cal­cu­lated at com­pound in­ter­est at daily rates on all rates and charges. Ratepay­ers ex­pe­ri­enc­ing hard­ship and can­not pay their rates and charges should contact the coun­cil’s cus­tomer ser­vice cen­tre on 4044 3044.

Photo by RICHARD KOSER

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