Brighton holds rates to CPI for 22nd year, but it’s under threat

FOR 22 years in succession, Brighton Council will keep its rates in line with inflation, with the general rate increase pegged to the CPI.

The rise next financial year will amount to just $19 a year for all residential households.

But the Council has warned it may not be able to maintain its long-standing commitment to keep rates at CPI because of the State Government’s threatened hostile takeover of TasWater.

Brighton Mayor Tony Foster said while the annual rates would not be officially passed by Council until its June meeting, the rate determination had been workshopped and approved in principle at last night’s Council meeting.Mayor Foster said because of Brighton Council’s operational efficiency and its fair rating regime, it had been able to maintain its policy of keeping general rate increases at or below the increase in the Hobart Consumer Price Index which, for the past year, was 2.3 percent.

“Our flat rating regime for residential properties ensures fairness and the Auditor-General has confirmed Brighton continues to have the lowest per capita rates in Tasmania.

“But this is at risk because of the State Government’s threat to take over TasWater. Under the Government’s plan an additional debt of $3000 will be imposed on every Tasmanian household to slightly speed up TasWater’s capital program.

“The proposed borrowings will significantly impact on TasWater’s long-term profitability which is why the State Government is unable to commit to the original dividend plan put forward by TasWater.

“Brighton Council’s share of TasWater is valued at more than $46 million, paid for by Brighton ratepayers. The State Government plans to take this asset without any upfront compensation and return significantly less to the Council in the long term.

“Obviously, this will impact on our future budgets and rate determinations,” Cr Foster said.

Brighton Council’s key expenditure projects for the coming year include:

  • A new community park for Old Beach.
  • Stage 1 of the Bridgewater master plan.
  • Stage 1 of the Gagebrook / Herdsmans Cove improvement works.
  • Development of the Polonia Bridge Park in Brighton.

In stark contrast to the attack on local government by the State Treasurer, with Federal Government support, this year should also see the replacement of the Covehill Bridge and a complete redevelopment of the Brighton Bowls and Community Club building.

“The efficiency of our operations and strong financial management, coupled with our commitment to shared services with other like-minded Councils means that Brighton ratepayers continue to benefit from the full range of services at the lowest possible cost,” Cr Foster said.