RATES will be going up for Ipswich residents in the next financial year, but at this point the council is keeping tight-lipped on the amount.
The 2023-2024 budget will be published next Thursday and in an early press release the council said the rate increase would be below the current inflation rate, for the fifth year in a row.
Mayor Teresa Harding said the budget was one of the most challenging budgets councillors have had to deliver in recent years.
“We are very aware that any increase in rates does not just affect homeowners but will also flow through to renters who are already doing it pretty tough,” she said.
“Anyone who is managing a household budget, or running a business, knows that costs are going up across the board and this is no different to council’s budget,” she said.
“As Mayor, I always want the best of everything for our region, but we need to balance this by not over promising and adding to rates in the coming years.
“It is our responsibility to find the balance between the delivery of services to support our growing community and avoiding the burden of extra spending being passed onto the residents and ratepayers of Ipswich.
“Ultimately, the cost of the services, infrastructure and commitments of council are paid for by the ratepayer. While I would ideally like to see everything delivered today not tomorrow, I am mindful we are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis and need to find the right balance for our community.
“Inflation remains above seven per cent, and the costs of sourcing supplies and delivering services are also continuing to rise. As an example, the cost of building roads and bridges has gone up by nearly 10.8 per cent over the past 12 months and 17 per cent over the past two years.
“Our region is also continuing to deal with the ongoing impacts and recovery efforts of last year’s flood events.”
Mayor Harding said that councillors were also working to manage costs associated with population growth and the demand for services in the coming Budget.
“There were 88,000 residential dwellings in Ipswich at the end of last financial year, and we expect this number to rise to almost 100,000 in just a few years,” Mayor Harding said.
“Our region’s rapid population growth means more waste bins, more infrastructure, and more demand on all services, from libraries to sporting fields.
“Unfortunately, it will also mean more families doing it tough in a community where the median weekly household income is almost five per cent lower than the same figure nationally.”
Mayor Harding said council’s budget discussions had recognised the challenging balancing act facing the city, and that there was some good news ahead for residents.
“Residents should know that, while this has been a challenging budget to prepare, they have been at the forefront of Councillors’ and my thinking as we have been preparing it.
“Over the past four budgets, council has managed to keep rate increases below inflation and we are committed to ensuring this Budget is no different.
“We are working hard to make sure that we do not pass on the full costs of increases we are facing to ratepayers, and that will include limiting any rates increases to below inflation.”
Despite the challenging circumstances, Mayor Harding said the council’s finances were in a sound condition overall.
“Despite the growth challenges the Budget is on track to deliver a small surplus in 2023-2024,” she said.