By MAYOR TONY FOSTER AOM
I AM pleased to report that as a result of our efficient management and prudent budgeting, Brighton Council has been able to maintain its commitment to keep annual rate increases at or below the rate of inflation for the forthcoming year.
The annual rate increase of 2.9 per cent across all categories – residential, rural and commercial – was approved in principle (or agreed) at our May Council meeting and is in line with the rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the Hobart region. It is lower than the national CPI increase for the past year of 3.3 per cent.The maximum annual rate increase for any residential property is $20.80, or just 40 cents extra per week. The rate for vacant residential land will increase by $6 a year.
This is the 15th straight year that we have been able to keep rate increases at or below the annual CPI rise.
We have been able to hold individual rates down through the continuation of our residential flat rate, part of Brighton’s ‘Fair Rating System’ that means that no residential property rate increases by more than CPI. Similarly, each rural and commercial sector rate increases have also been kept down in line with the CPI, so businesses and farmers in the municipality can budget with continued certainty.
Council’s budget for the forthcoming year will see the continued upgrading of the municipalities roads, sports grounds and other public facilities. Importantly we have also provided funds for the continuation of the popular foreshore walks development and in a valuable road safety initiative, the construction of two new traffic simulation bike tracks for children. All these works will improve the quality of our living environment in Brighton and ensure that our municipality is an even more vibrant place to raise families and enjoy the best that our region has to offer.
Brighton’s 2011-12 budget provides for an operating surplus of $1.3 million after providing around $3 million for capital works so that we are fully funding our depreciation. We’ve also put aside $250,000 in reserves for future capital works that may be required.
Importantly, Brighton Council is debt free so we are well placed to meet the challenge of now and in the future, and provide for the needs of the community and the development of our region.
With my fellow councillors and council management and staff, I am proud of what Brighton has been able to achieve as Tasmania’s fastest growing municipality over the past five years. As the Auditor-General has reported, Brighton has the second lowest rate charges in the State per head of population and has the lowest staff ratio. But at the same time, it is able to achieve the highest operating margin of any Tasmanian council.
Our community can be assured that Council will continue to strive to provide the leadership and efficient management that will take Brighton forward with confidence.