Brisbane City Council budget: rates up, debt down

June 18, 2014 – 11:27AM

Kim Stephens


Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has handed down the 2014/15 budget Brisbane City Council budget.

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has handed down the 2014/15 budget Brisbane City Council budget. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Brisbane City Council’s finance chairman Julian Simmonds had one message for the city’s residents about today’s annual budget.

Think unsexy.

As promised the 2014-15 budget has delivered little in the way of surprises.

Asset maintenance, infrastructure and public and active transport investment are the key expenditure focuses, though its the slashing of the city’s debt that is perhaps its biggest achievement.

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the city’s $2.4 billion debt – accrued mainly through its recent large-scale infrastructure investment program – will drop to $1.6 billion by the end of this financial year.

Cr Simmonds said this equated to a reduction in net debt from its current financial year peak of $2107 per person to $1411 per person.

It is then forecast to drop below $1000 in 2016-17.

Yet the council has achieved this without any significant rates rise.

This year 3.85 per cent will be added to annual rates notices or an average of nearly $50 per household and businesses.

The debt repayment will come largely from two sources – a $400 million funding contribution from the Federal Government upon the completion of the Legacy Way tunnel in early 2015 and a new funding arrangement between water authority Queensland Urban Utilities and the Queensland Treasury Corporation.

Cr Quirk said it would eliminate the council as the “middle man” between the two entities, producing savings across the next three years.

Due to the debt reduction there is a $1 million reduction in general purpose borrowings to fund bread and butter council services.

It is forecast to fall from $2.5 million in 2013-14 to $1.5 million in 2014-15.

Cr Quirk said although there were no new project announcements infrastructure was again a key focus, with $1 billion budgeted for ongoing projects.

“This is a budget with a  strong emphasis on infrastructure, fees and charges remain at CPI level, it doesn’t cut the delivery of services and pensioners are looked after,” he said.

“There is also a significant reduction in debt … which will be down 55 per cent by 2016-17 to less than $1000 per person.”

Both Cr Quirk and Cr Simmonds defended the lack of new projects in the budget, saying its prudent focus was to ensure the LNP administration did not leave a legacy of debt for future administrations.

“We’re very conscious of making a firm, solid foundation on which to build the budget,” Cr Simmonds said.

Source : The Brisbane Times

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