Modest rise in rates is expected

HOMEOWNERS will find out tomorrow how much their rates will rise.

After three successive Rockhampton Regional Council budgets which have imposed inflation-busting increases, there are high hopes that this year's rise will be more manageable.

Ipswich City Council yesterday handed down a 4.9% increase while Brisbane City Council delighted its ratepayers earlier this month with an increase of just 1.79%, despite the devastating impact of last summer's floods and the work to repair the widespread damage.

The days of increases running at three or even four times the rate of inflation seem to be behind us. This will, after all, be the last budget before councillors have to seek re-election.

Regional councillors, who have been grappling with the 2011/12 budget for months, will meet early on Wednesday and are expected to formally vote to approve the documents that will govern how much ratepayers will have to find.

If there are no hitches in the adoption process, Mayor Brad Carter will announce the rate rise, debt level and main projects to be funded in the coming year, at a press conference in Rockhampton Regional Library at noon.

Cr Carter repeated earlier indications that councillors were aware people were struggling with their household finances and there was a determination to set a rate that was affordable.

“We have worked towards a target rise in the range of 3% to 5%,” he said.

“Councillors have considered the cost of living pressures that are impacting on families. We know that electricity price rises, rising interest rates and the costs of things like household and medical insurance are making life tough.”

A rise at the higher end of the council's target would add about $102 a year to the average bill.

In 2008, the newly amalgamated council slugged the region's ratepayers with a 9.5% hike. In 2009 it was 8% and last year an average of 7.5% although some people complained that a new rating system had hit them with a double-figure rise.

The average rates bill in Rockhampton this year is $2042. In Gracemere it is $2294 in Yeppoon $2327 and in Mount Morgan $2010 according to the council's figures.

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