Mayor refutes budget smoke and mirrors

REDLAND City Mayor Karen Williams has denied claims she hid the windfall of water revenue in her $$259 million budget.

Cr Williams said she had been upfront about the $$88 million water revenue and denied hiding above-CPI increases in rates bills.

She said revenue raised from general rates rose 0.3 per cent and overall rates and utilities revenue rose 1.9 per cent, in line with her election promise to cap rates rises at CPI and the lowest rates rise in South-East Queensland.

She said it was impossible to guarantee individual property owners would get a 1.6 per cent rise in their total rates bill, which included other fees and charges along with a general rates charge.

“There will always be naysayers about the headline rate but I can’t control land valuations which affect how much each property pays.

“My budget leaves more money in ratepayers’ pockets than the 4.5 per cent rise in general rates revenue proposed under the previous council.”

Cr William also rejected claims that her “Back to Basics” budget would not have been possible without the return of the $$420 million Redland Water asset on July 1.

Redland Water is expected to bring in about $$88 million from water and wastewater utility charges over the financial year.

Last year, officers estimated its revenue would only be $$70 million.

“The reintegration of the water business has a significant impact on available cash funding and the higher dividend received helped minimise increases to general rates,” she said.

“Thanks to Redland Water this year’s utility charges will contribute 45 per cent of cash funding compared to 15 per cent last year.

“This will enable council to start many essential projects planned for the 2012-13 financial year,” Cr Williams said.

But Division 1 councillor Wendy Boglary, who voted for the budget, said the mayor was using “smoke and mirrors” while claiming “belt-tightening” gave the city a rates reprieve.

“The council did not cut capital expenditure, or operational expenditure, we actually increased it,” Cr Boglary said.

“All we did was get a windfall from water which allowed the council to deliver lower-than-predicted rates rises.

“Anybody would have delivered rate relief this time with this extra revenue. This revenue has brought rate relief to residents in my division, where only 10 per cent will have any rate rise.

“Other areas in the city have also fared well, but many have not,” Cr Boglary said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Guiyang Sauna Net.