Other councils, such as the Gold Coast, Lockyer Valley and Brisbane City, have opted to offer rebates or temporarily freeze rates to support residents doing it tough in the months ahead.
Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate said the region’s $1.7 billion budget was focused on rebuilding the region’s economy, including a rebate to prevent a rates rise.
“In light of the extraordinary challenges of COVID-19, we have worked hard to ensure this
budget continues to deliver those essential services so important to safeguarding our lifestyle,” Cr Tate said.
Brisbane lord mayor Adrian Schrinner also confirmed a six-month freeze on rates before they rise by 2.5 per cent from January 1.
Lockyer Valley mayor Tanya Milligan also noted federal and state funds would be put through the council’s coming budget to generate a large number of jobs through more than 60 projects.
Across south-east Queensland, no rate rise has been above 3 per cent to date, with Redland City Council increasing its rates to 2.99 per cent on average for general residential.
The $327 million Redland budget runs on a deficit with an expanded $80 million capital investment in citywide infrastructure.
Ipswich City Council’s mayor Teresa Harding warned the council’s first budget under the new administration had been hit hard by “wasteful spending” from the previous council, sacked in 2018.
“They prioritised expenditure elsewhere. Some of those poor decisions are hurting the community now as we can’t afford the infrastructure,” she said.
“When we commenced reviewing the budget some two months ago, we soon realised our hands were tied because of bygone financial decisions.”
Cr Harding warned the council would have to increase rates, with the budget running an $8.7 million deficit.
Toowoomba Regional Council rates rose 2.5 per cent, the same amount Brisbane residents will see their rates increase by from January 1 after a six-month freeze.
Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio said the coronavirus pandemic had forced the council to “reshape our budget plans to focus sharply on how we can directly support communities across our region”.
The council’s $567 million budget includes a large scope of infrastructure work and other projects to stimulate the regional economy.
The Sunshine Coast Regional Council also increased rates by 2 per cent, while the Southern Downs Regional Council increased its rates by 1.9 per cent but provided a rebate to effectively freeze rates.
Unlike some of its neighbours, the Southern Downs will run a surplus of $63,000 and reduce the council’s debt by $1.6 million.
Mayor Vic Pennisi said the previous term’s “sound financial management” meant the council could run a $40.8 million capital works program to upgrade “ageing infrastructure” across the region.
Somerset Regional Council mayor Graeme Lehmann said the council was running a deficit budget as “the right budget for 2020”, with a 1 per cent rates rise.
The council takes in just $23 million in rates revenue, while the new budget includes more than $30 million for capital expenditure, with Cr Lehmann saying the region can “return to better times by building infrastructure that our community needs”.
Meanwhile Moreton Bay Regional Council’s $685 million budget included a rate rise of 2 per cent with a $220 million capital works program allocating millions to infrastructure works in a bid to increase jobs.
New Moreton mayor Peter Flannery said the budget included $32 million for coronavirus stimulus and response initiatives.
Lucy is the urban affairs reporter for the Brisbane Times, with a special interest in Brisbane City Council.