Crunch time on big rates rises
THE FRASER Coast Regional Council is facing crunch time with its rates increases, with a senior local government officer warning “the time is coming that we will run out of rope”.
“The Fraser Coast council is one of Qld's top 15 councils in terms of size and is among 25 councils in this state that will probably be forced to decide whether it cuts spending on new infrastructure and services,” LGAQ executive director Greg Hallam (pictured) said from Christchurch in New Zealand yesterday.
“Financially stressed residents are not going to tolerate ongoing big rate rises.
“There's an undisputed job to be done and the spending is justified at the moment but councils are looking at a political and financial Rubicon we can't cross.”
Mr Hallam said that state-wide council debt had gone from $2 billion at amalgamation to $4 billion.
“We're facing a $6 billion debt by the end of this term in 2012.
“And the Queensland Treasury Corporation is tipping an $8 billion debt by 2015.”
“General rates in Qld have gone up 25 per cent in three years.
“I believe Hervey Bay is the third-fastest-growing area in Australia.
“The council can't borrow to put the rates up, it can't borrow to balance the budget, it can't borrow for anything but capital works.
“Councils are spending the highest percentage on infrastructure among federal, state and local governments.
“It's a matter of political tolerance on councils putting their rates up.
“There will come a critical point where we will run out of rope.”