Queanbeyan residents face rate rise to fund infrastructure

Source: Canberra Times

Queanbeyan ratepayers will be hit with annual rate increases as high as 13.5 per cent as the council moves to rake in more revenue to replace ageing infrastructure.

The council’s 2014/15 budget proposes a 13.5 per cent increase to sewer rates, 9.5 per cent increase to water rates, and 7 per cent increase to waste charges.

General rates will increase by 2.3 per cent– the maximum allowed by the NSW state government’s rate pegging limit – giving the council an extra $499,115 in income.

The council has defended the increases, saying its water supply business has not been generating enough revenue and the 9.5 per cent increase to access and consumption charges was needed to replace ageing assets.

“This position is not financially sustainable and strategies and pricing methodologies have been developed to have the water fund attain a fully-funded position in forward financial years,” a council spokesperson said.

The council’s sewerage access charges are among the lowest in the state, the spokesperson said, but remaining at the same level without a 13.5 per cent increase was “unsustainable”.

Ratepayers and residents have the opportunity to comment on the increases, outlined in the council’s draft Operational Plan and Schedule of Fees and Charges for 2014-15, when the documents go on public exhibition for 28 days from Monday, April 28.

Eligible pensioners will receive a maximum rebate of $465 per annum, with 55 per cent funded by the NSW government.

Queanbeyan mayor Tim Overall said a number of significant community projects would begin in 2014/15.

The council will spend $17.5 million on capital works including improvements to the CBD, planning for future traffic needs, construction of a bus interchange and upgrades to Seiffert Oval.

There are also plans afoot for a new sewage treatment plant and maintenance of the city’s roads, footpaths, parks and sportsfields.

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