Council’s Budget strikes the right balance
Lockyer Valley Regional Council’s 2023/24 Budget blends a significant flood recovery capital works program, investments in strategic projects and delivery of wide-ranging services to strike the right balance for the community during these tough economic times.
The $127.22M Budget leverages more than $50M in grant funding to provide an operating expenditure of $71.75M and $55.47M in capital expenditure, with $38.8M earmarked for road network upgrades.
When handing down the Budget today, Mayor Tanya Milligan said it showed a strong commitment from Councillors to keep rates as low as possible while balancing community expectations and financial responsibility.
“This Budget lays a foundation for the future, ensuring the next generation is not unfairly burdened with issues that can be addressed now, such as capping landfill that has reached capacity,” she said.
“Council continues to deliver responsible budgets that balance financial sustainability with the delivery of the range of services our fast-growing community needs and expects.
“Council has demonstrated its financial management track record by consistently operating within its budget, keeping rate increases low, with an average annual increase of just 2.23 per cent in general residential rates over the past four years against an average annual CPI of 4.15 per cent, all the while delivering the services needed to see our community grow and remain vibrant.
The 2023/24 Budget predicts a small operating surplus of $0.26M for the year.
“Where the banks and other large corporations may be passing on all the impacts of rising interest rates and CPI, our Council is absorbing as much as possible through operational efficiencies and grants,” Mayor Milligan said.
“The average owner-occupied residential general rate increase in this Budget is 4.73 per cent, and when combined with the increase for Waste Management charges, the average annual increase is less than $2 per week."
Mayor Milligan said almost every aspect of the wonderful lifestyle Lockyer Valley residents enjoy is supported by Council.
“From the roads we drive, the parks we take our families to, the sports fields that are teeming with both competitors and supporters each week, the safe housing and business standards we enjoy, the viability of so many local community groups – all of these are the result of what Council delivers every day,” she said.
Finance Portfolio Councillor Chris Wilson said Council continued to pay close attention to all aspects of the Budget to ensure it met the Queensland Audit Office’s financial sustainability measures, without placing undue stress on the community.
“In the past eight years we have paid down almost $24M in debt, regularly reviewed our operations for improvement and efficiencies, developed a rating model that better manages the infrequent land valuations, responded to a pandemic and several floods, and still managed to keep rate increases well below CPI,” he said.
“This year we have had to increase Waste Collection and Waste Management Charges to meet the new standards of full cost pricing, however the average increase of just 75 cents per week should have a minimal impact on households, and our other levies remain unchanged.”
Cr Wilson acknowledged the added challenge of wildly varied land valuation changes across the region, with some residential properties experiencing more than double the valuation increase of those of a similar value.
“The process for trying to keep similar valued properties on similar rates is really complex, and in some cases the valuation change is so substantial we have little choice but to pass more of the impact on,” he said.
Council has set aside $5.71M for community facilities including sport and recreation grounds, $3.84M for waste facility upgrades, $1.34M for bridge upgrades and $757,000 for disaster management systems.
In addition, Council has retained its rating concessions for pensioners and ratepayers who pay their General Rates and Waste and Recycling Charges in full by the due date, and encouraged anyone having difficulty paying their rates to contact Council as soon as possible to discuss hardship options.
Mayor Milligan and Cr Wilson thanked their fellow Councillors, the Executive Leadership Team and Council staff for their roles in building the strong foundations for a bright future for the Lockyer Valley.
For further information, visit www.lockyervalley.qld.gov.au/budget or contact Council on 1300 005 872.