CQUni professor wonders how long rates increases stay low

IT MAY be Rockhampton's lowest rates increase for years, but it reflected the region's struggling economy, a CQUniversity economics professor said yesterday.

So Rockhampton Regional Council's 1.9% increase made economic sense for ratepayers, in John Rolfe's books, because they too were enduring tough economic times.

Prof Rolfe told The Morning Bulletin yesterday he wondered though how long the council could keep future rates increases down.

He said the region's economic climate was tough at the moment and more infrastructure would give Rockhampton the momentum it needed towards a stable future.

Prof Rolfe said more infrastructure projects meant more economic growth for the region; which led to bigger rates increases.

The news of the council's 1.9% rate rise was most welcome for Prof Rolfe, who said the increases over the past 10 years had been "phenomenal" and overwhelming for ratepayers.

"That was due perhaps to growing infrastructure in places like Gracemere, where about five years ago there were more housing developments, sewerage systems and other key resources to help grow those areas," he said.

"There is no doubt the council is in a position to propose a low rates increase ahead of a period of inflation.

"The more successful a region is in attracting population growth, the more difficult it is to keep the rates base low."

With regional infrastructure projects in the pipeline, Prof Rolfe said it was too hard to tell what would happen to Rockhampton's rates in the coming years.

"Central Queensland is at the lower end of the economic cycle but in a couple of years it should grow again," he said.



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