Shire's town ratepayers hit by 8% hike in rates

HOME owners in Biloela, Moura and Taroom face an 8% rates rise.

Banana Shire Council's 2009/10 budget was announced by Mayor John Hooper yesterday.

He said it had been a difficult budget to balance as the council, one of the smallest left in Queensland in terms of population and rates base, struggled with limited sources of revenue and a level of uncertainty because of cuts in state subsidies.

But pensioners in the shire will get additional help to pay their new rates bills. The pensioner subsidy will go up from $180 to $250 in recognition of the “ongoing costs that this section of our community faces,” he said.

Cr Hooper said one of the primary objectives of the budget was to make the council more sustainable in the medium to longer term.

Announcing the council's operational deficit would be $4.5 million in the new budget, he said over the next five to 10 years it was essential the deficit was turned into a surplus.

He said the authority had a 10-year plan to make its utility services self-funding and announced a long-term aim to fully fund depreciation.

“Council is also conscious of the need to identify and deliver cost savings within its operations. We need to be smarter about the way we do business, and improve our operational efficiency.”

The council was well aware that cost increases impacted on all sections of the community and had tried to limit the increase and absorb some cost increases and loss of state subsidies.

One of the major initiatives is the introduction of a two-part water tariff for town water schemes in Moura, Banana, Theodore, Wowan and Baralaba where home owners will pay a fixed access charge for the water supply and get a second bill for the water they use.

Major projects that will go ahead in 2009/10 include upgrades to waste service facilities throughout the shire, a new administration building and art gallery in Biloela, an upgrade to the Magavalis Sports Complex and Moura Aquatic Centre and improvements at Thangool and Taroom airports.

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