IT might be great that we can claim to be one of the fastest growing communities in Queensland, but that title comes at a price.
In what can be classed as a Catch 22 situation Ipswich Council has blamed this increasing popularity as the key reason behind their decision to lift local rates by 5.5%.
The new increase marks a worrying upward trend from the council, who just two years ago lifted annual rates by 2.7%, last year by 4.49% and now to over five per cent.
While this equates to an average bill increase of just $100 it will still hurt local residents who are already battling to meet soaring energy and supermarket bills.
Mayor Teresa Harding said the budget was like the State of Origin, “it’s tough, it’s a big job, but in the end this is a big win for the people of Ipswich.”
The mayor admitted that compared to Brisbane‘s increase of only 3.4 per cent and Logan’s 4.09%, the increase to Ipswich’s rates was significant.
She defended the increase by saying Ipswich’s higher rate was in part due to the population growth of the region and a lack of state government funding to assist with that growth.
“Ipswich’s expected growth by 2046 is 126 per cent and the next closest council is about 64 per cent, so we are going through growth like no other area,” she said.
“Our rate rise is a fair one which seems to be in the middle of pack compared to other councils, but we couldn’t put it off any longer.”
“One of the highlights is the record spend of $48m on local roads and also the spend on footpaths and sporting fields.”
That comment in the budget press conference prompted the question as to how the $33m budget blowout on council’s Venue building project could have benefited this one area alone by improving a crumbling road system.
The mayor threw back the question discrediting the Pisasale led council’s decision more than a decade ago to buy the Ipswich Plaza Shopping centre and the Commonwealth Hotel and then added that the global pandemic and global supply chain issues had impacted the project.
When asked that surely a multi-million dollar budget blowout must be of a major concern to the council she replied:
“It’s a major concern to the people of Ipswich and that’s who I represent, it’s a major concern to them that the previous council lost $78m and was very secretive.
“This is a council that has been very open and very transparent and we have breathed life back here.”
A major push in the new budget focuses on a “greener” Ipswich with an aggressive stance on waste in the region, but resident tip vouchers are not on the agenda.
A massive $70 million has been given to waste and resource and recovery management in the region which will see two brand new resource and recovery centres.
Additionally, another 10 waste vehicles will be added to the fleet including Food Organic Garden Organic (FOGO) trucks.
Major improvements have been funded to some major problem areas, including Redbank Plains Rd, Springfield Greenbank Arterial Rd and the intersection of Ripley Rd and Reif St in Flinders View.
Additionally, the Mary St and William St intersection in Blackstone will see a $4.9 million design and construction upgrade.
Almost half of the council’s annual budget is dedicated to their capital works program, including $75 million dedicated to ongoing flood recovery for the region.
A third of this will go to repair and rebuild open spaces and facilities, such as Colleges Crossing, and a further $38 million is earmarked to repair flood damaged roads and drains.