Adrian Grayson says expectations are higher on councils these days.
Adrian Grayson says expectations are higher on councils these days. CHRIS ISON CI

Rates cut into earnings even more

ROCKHAMPTON’S rates bill is taking a bigger chunk out of the average wage earner’s annual pay packet.

Morning Bulletin checks reveal Rockhampton’s rates bill is now chewing up more than 4.3% of the annual average wage, compared to 2.9% 20 years ago.

This confirms a long-held perception that ratepayers are hurting in the hip-pocket like never before.

Rockhampton Regional Council this week explained the reasons for the increase and pointed out the region’s rates bill was more than favourable compared to other similar-sized organisations.

“As residents and ratepayers of the Rockhampton region, we all see and feel the impacts of the rising cost of living with each passing year,” a statement issued by council said.

“While we understand that every dollar you pay in fees, charges and rates is a dollar that was hard-earned, we encourage an understanding of both the growing variety of functions and services that council provides you, and also the expenditure pressure that has hit local government from a range of sources.

“These include the devolution of state government functions to local government, rapid population growth, increasing community expectations and the growing amount of new local government functions and services.”

The statement said people should consider all the services council provided.

“A day at Dreamworld will cost you $219 for a family of two adults and two children,” it said.

“You might baulk at the price until you realise that this charge covers a wide range of customer services, rides, entertainment and access to facilities for your whole family, including the Big 6 Thrill Rides, Wiggles World, Nickelodeon Central, The Australian Wildlife Experience, Tiger Island, V8 Supercars RedLine and Australia’s first and only FlowRider.”

The statement said while council’s core business was still perceived as the “3 Rs of Local Government - Roads, Rates and Rubbish” – council was also committed to its broader role in a range of social and human services.

“These are seen as discretionary activities for local government, as many of these services are considered the primary responsibility of other spheres of government,” the statement said.

“Due to inadequate service provision or withdrawal of services from other levels of government, however, councils often step in to fill the gap as these services are still regarded as important to our local communities.”

North Rockhampton’s Adrian Grayson, who has lived on Water Street for about two years, said the expectations on council were much greater.

“I think there’s value there,” Adrian said.

“But, I still believe there are times when things could be done better, like with the street and the pot holes things could be repaired much quicker.

Morning Bulletin research showed Rockhampton City Council’s rates bill in 1990 was $744. The current average rates for Rockhampton residents in the regional council are $2101 (this is after the $233 discount). The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the national average weekly wage in November 1990 was $490.60 a week. In August 2009 this was $934.70.

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