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From the Mayor's Desk - 21 July 2020

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We are already quickly settling in to the new financial year and so, in this fortnight’s column, I am drawing your attention to the topic of general rates. Notices will be in the mail next week for the period 1 July - 31 December 2020 – if you do not receive your notice by 5 August, please get in touch with Council on 07 4671 7400.

Firstly, I implore all ratepayers in the region to take advantage of Council’s early payment discount, which allows for a generous 15% discount if the notice is paid by Wednesday 26 August. Secondly, I want to take this opportunity to provide some insight and context around Council’s decision to implement a 1.7% average general rate rise for the 2020-21 financial year.

Less than half of Council’s total operational expenditure for this year will come from rates – 53% is externally sourced through grants, subsidies and sales, and we are extremely proud of that figure. For the average ratepayer, a 1.7% rise results in an increase of just under $40. A rate rise of 1.7% is, in fact, one of the smallest ever implemented by this Council and will generate only $235,000 of extra revenue. The whole of this amount, along with an additional $230,000 of Council’s Budget, will go towards Council’s COVID-19 Community and Economic Support Package to provide targeted assistance to the industries and community groups most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Council was extremely mindful of the impact of current circumstances - including the ongoing drought - in its preparation of the 2020-21 Budget. Council itself is not immune to the challenges facing much of our community: since amalgamation, its workforce has been reduced from 198 to 175 (including 19 casual) staff members – and this is despite an increase in provided services.

In March this year the Goondiwindi region saw huge changes in land valuations determined by the Queensland Government’s Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy. For example, some rural areas within our region - especially throughout the larger mixed brigalow farming and irrigated floodplains of Goondiwindi, and to the west around North Talwood - saw valuation changes ranging from 0 – 80%. Some commercial and industrial properties experienced valuation increases of up to 120%.

It is important to note that changes to land valuations do not alter the overall revenue that Council collects from rates – what does change is how that revenue is divided between rateable properties. (For clarification on this, visit www.dlgrma.qld.gov.au and search ‘How are rates determined?’.) To ensure that individual ratepayers aren’t too adversely affected by this year’s huge fluctuations in land valuations, Council is maintaining a cap of 20% on the rate increase for any one property. Despite this, 441 of the 5,208 rate notices will unfortunately still include an increase of more than 5% due to the increase in their land valuation - but 573 rate notices will see a reduction of up to 40%.

Finally, on a different note: the next edition of Council’s Belong magazine is now arriving in mailboxes across the region – I do hope you’ll look out for the GrainCorp Silos at Yelarbon on the cover, along with the sub-committee who helped to make the artwork happen. Inside, you’ll find more details about our region’s new tourism campaign and Visitor Strategy, some great ways to support our local businesses, and how Council is planning to improve the region’s resilience to future drought events. I would also encourage you to find out what opportunities may be available to you through Council’s COVID-19 Community and Economic Support Package, which includes increased funding opportunities for community groups.

Hon. Cr Lawrence Springborg AM
Mayor
Goondiwindi Regional Council

Published: 21st July 2020