In 2022 we all know the pain of runaway inflation. Noosa Council is adding a little bit of petrol to the fire with an overall hike across the shire of about DOUBLE the inflation rate. Ouch.
I’ll get to the local politics and spin in a minute, but first let’s look at the contents of the medicine our ratepayers are being asked to swallow.
- Budget total revenue from ratepayers for rates, levies and charges up 10%, on top of the 9% increase last year.
- Employee benefits up another 11.8%, an increase of 21.5% in budget allocation in 2 years.
- Changes to individual rate notices compared to the last budget:
- Council has made a decision not to reinstate the Tourism and Economic Levy that they abandoned last year, so just like this year, all ratepayers will again pay for promotion and marketing of business. It is being increased by $348,000 to $4.1 million, or $132 per ratepayer.
Council has already turned its spin cycle into overdrive.
“Increased valuations, floods and Covid have created enormous challenges”. Spin. Revaluations are nothing new, and they have no effect at all on how much revenue Council decides they want to obtain from ratepayers. The problem is that they want an extra 10% this year after an extra 9% last year.
More spin; blame the floods and Covid, even though Council has been showered with tens of millions of dollars in the last 2 years from Federal and State Governments.
Just look at the huge capital works programs this year and proposed for next year. They’re having problems spending it.
The major reason for the huge rate increases for 40% of ratepayers is clearly employee expenses. These are now over 50% of rate revenue. This is the elephant in the Pelican Street chambers.
How many new staff are included in the 11.8% increase in staff costs in the draft budget? Why aren’t we being given that information? It’s an eye-watering 21.5% increase in staff costs in just 2 years.
This extravagance is funded mostly by those ratepayers not on the minimum rate. In this draft budget they are facing an average increase of about 13%. No Schedule of Rates was included in the information supplied, so they will have to wait for their next rate notice to find out their individual increase. Just like last year, it’s too late to complain when the bill is in the letterbox.
How ratepayers are subsiding business
In June last year Council abandoned the Tourism & Economic levy that had been funding tourism promotion and economic development for 20 years. Business had been paying for its own marketing and business development, as they should.
Now all ratepayers are paying Tourism Noosa $2.5 million this year as well as almost $1 million in Council’s budget for economic development. The draft budget maintains the annual subsidy to tourism and other business, actually increasing the subsidy by $348,000 to $4 million.
That’s 6% of the total general rates proposed in the new budget. If business paid for its own marketing and promotion, every ratepayer could see a 6% reduction in their proposed general rate.
As the cost of living for families is skyrocketing, it’s time for Noosa to consider reinstating the levy so business pays for its own marketing and promotion.
Council appears to be drinking its own ‘kool-aid’, believing its own myth that community surveys have influenced this draft budget. I’ve previously written about how we only get to have a say when the document is signed, sealed and ready for delivery.
Perhaps our Councillors missed the question in the Community Satisfaction Survey where 77% of respondents said they preferred that Council ‘leave things as they are’ if that’s what will keep Council operating within their financial means. That feedback seems pretty clear to me.
And you can give your feedback by emailing email@example.com but be quick, it closes on Sunday June 5.