The Kingborough Council has released its draft Budget for the 2019/20 financial year and is seeking feedback from the community.
Mayor of Kingborough, Cr Dean Winter said, “The next financial year will be an important year for the council as we aim to roll out our largest infrastructure spend in our history, while maintaining a strong budget position, limiting rate rises and building back towards a budget surplus.”
The 2019/20 draft Budget proposes an underlying deficit of $226,000, with an underlying surplus to be achieved by 2020/21.
It proposes a general rate increase of 3.5 per cent, in line with the recently revised and adopted Long Term Financial Plan (LTFP).
The council is however also considering an additional 2 per cent additional rate rise to offset the loss of revenue stemming from the recent Southern Cross Care court decision.
“The exemption for charitable institutions means that some people living in independent living units no longer need to pay rates, creating a $460,000 hole in council’s budget,” said Cr Winter.
“Council believes the State Government should act swiftly to amend the Legislation to resolve this issue and ensure all ratepayers are treated equitably.
“Not only does the decision of the court mean that significant revenue is foregone, but a major inequity is created within the rate base.
“Because of the decision, pensioners living in independent living units will no longer have to pay rates and contribute to the upkeep of the roads, parks and footpaths they use and “enjoy.
“Conversely, a pensioner living in their own private property will likely have to pay more rates, to offset those who no longer contribute at all.
“That is simply unfair and should not be allowed to continue” said Cr Winter.
The Local Government Association of Tasmania is in discussions with the State Government, and should the legislation be changed to require the charitable institutions to pay rates on their independent living units, the 2 per cent rate increase would be reversed.
The total capital works budget for 2019/20 is $16.9 million.
This includes the long-awaited reconstruction of the Channel Highway in Kingston and a focus on asset renewal and replacements.
An enhanced focus on stormwater is also proposed, with an additional $200,000 per year planned to be spent maintaining and enhancing the network, with recreational water quality being a key priority.
“Council continues to have the lowest average rate against all the other metro Hobart councils with this proposed budget,” said Cr Winter.
“We also continue to have the lowest council operating costs per rateable property.
“We have designed our long-term financial plan to ensure we are a lean and efficient council
focusing on the core services that our residents rely on.”