Council to collect no more rates revenue in 2020-2021

Almost 60 per cent of Mackay ratepayers will pay no more rates in 2020-2021 than they did this financial year.

That is because council has taken the decision to collect no more rates revenue than it did in 2019-2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the community.

Valuations issued by the Department of Natural Resources in the Mackay region for the first time in three years means there will be variations in rates notices.

“We can’t freeze rates as legislation dictates that they must be based on those State Government land valuations,” said Mayor Greg Williamson.

“But the decision by council to adopt no increase in general rates, despite CPI being around 1.8 per cent, will ensure any rises in valuations aren’t exacerbated,” he said.

“Our data shows that most residential ratepayers, around 59 per cent, will see no increase or will receive a reduction in their rates in 2020-2021.

“Around 73 per cent of commercial and industrial property owners, as well as 50 per cent of cane farmers, will also receive no increase or a reduction.”

Of those who do receive a rise in rates notices, most will be small to moderate increases.

Mayor Williamson said council’s Long-Term Financial Forecast had been based on moderate increases in rates in line with the CPI.

He said COVID-19 had prompted council to deviate from that for 2020-2021 to provide no increase in general rate revenue to help assist the community.

“That decision plus other COVID-19 support measures mean we’re forecasting a budget deficit in the order of $5 million.

“But we’re fortunate that the good financial management of council has put us in a good position to ensure that deficit won’t have major ongoing implications for ratepayers.

“The long-term financial forecasts now indicate deficits for the next two years and then budget surpluses for the following eight, with no need for major rates hike above CPI.”

Mayor Williamson said despite the impact of COVID-19 on the 2020-2021 budget, council would still reduce its loans by $14.9 million as part of its focus on debt reduction.

“Council has a healthy cash balance, forecasted at around $126 million.”

2020-2021 Budget At A Glance

> No increase in general rates and other rates charges

> Extension of the discount period for the first half-yearly rates period

> Majority of fees and charges remain the same, except for those affected by external organisations or legislated increases

> Removal of the City Centre levy

> A significant $1.2 million special community grants program in response to COVID-19

> A COVID-19 support package for businesses impacted, including substantial fee waivers

> A 50 per cent reduction in development fees until September 30, 2020

> Continuing commitment to ongoing community grants program of $500,000, as well as
$1 million for the Invest Mackay Events and Conference Attraction Program

> Significant investment in rural roads maintenance

> Funding commitments to several critical shovel ready projects for the future

> $14.9 million reduction in loans, continuing the focus on debt reduction

> Healthy cash balance forecasted at around $126 million

> No reduction in current service levels for all council services, except when directed by the National Cabinet and State Government because of COVID-19