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Quirk refuses to address rising rates

Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has been asked about a potential rates rise tripling in this year's budget.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has been asked about a potential rates rise tripling in this year's budget.

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has refused to address a prediction this year's rates increase could be three times higher than last year.

The Queensland Treasury Corporation report into Brisbane's finances, published in September 2011, forecasts rates increases of 5.7 per cent for 2012-13 and 5 per cent each year until 2021.

Cr Quirk handed down an increase of 1.79 per cent last year after the January 2011 floods.

But he and his finance committee spokesman Cr Adrian Schrinner are under greater financial pressure this year as a result of Legacy Way tunnel construction costs and flood recovery bills.

When asked about the tightening financial pressure at his election campaign launch yesterday Cr Quirk said he would comment on the make-up of Brisbane City Council's budget at a later date.

"I will be making statements about rates at another time, but I think we can say today that I delivered on a very, very small rate increase in the budget last year," he said.

"It was half the inflation rate - 1.79 per cent - for residents and business alike."

Cr Quirk would not elaborate on the make-up of the 2012-13 budget, when asked again.

"I will be making announcement on rates when I get a little closer to the election," he said.

The low 1.79 per cent rates increase handed down on June 8 last year added around $21 a year, however many suburbs paid much higher rates.

But if Brisbane City Council adopts the QTC's recommendations, this year's basic rates increase must triple last year's Council rates rise and add between $60 and $65 a year.

In now-Premier Campbell Newman's last term as lord mayor (2010-2011) the average rates increase was 5.04 per cent and added on average about $60 to the average rates bill.

Queensland Treasury Corporation is satisfied Brisbane City Council has a strong "revenue base" and can afford the debt.

It notes in the same report that "net debt" will reduce after the tunnel is finished.

But Brisbane still has some payments to make on the $400 million flood recovery damages it received after the January 2011 floods.

Also Brisbane City Council's gross debt level almost doubles - from $1.186 billion in 2011-12 to $2.389 billion in 2014-15 - mainly to pay for the $1.7 billion Legacy Way tunnel from Toowong to Bowen Hills.

Labor's mayoral candidate Ray Smith said the Legacy Way tunnel was predicted to run at a loss of an average $52 million for each of the first five years after 2015.

Mr Smith said Graham Quirk's budget last year was delivered as "an election budget."

"But in years to come, he has budgeted for five per cent rates rises," he said.

"That's also in their budget. That was he has budgeted for; that's not me making it up."

Mr Smith also questioned the level of the rates cap - now set at 7.5 per cent - which lets residents in some suburbs pay higher rates before a rates "ceiling" come into effect.

"So while he publicised that - across the board - he has an average rates rise that was kept low, then there places like Enoggera and Mitchelton and Keperra and Geebung that did not feel that happen."

"They had rates rises almost double inflation."

Mr Smith said Cr Quirk was under "extreme pressure" to keep this year's Council budget increase to the Brisbane inflation figure of 3 per cent.

"Last year's budget was an election budget; this year's - if he is elected - won't be as friendly."

He acknowledged he faced the same pressures but said his priorities were different.

Deputy Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the forecast from Queensland Treaury Corporation had no bearing on council's decision on rates.

He cited an instance when the QTC forecast that council would raise rates above the CPI in 2011-12, yet Lord Mayor Graham Quirk handed down one of the lowest rates increases in 35 years at just 1.79 per cent - less than half the Brisbane inflation rate (3.6 per cent).

14 comments so far

  • "When asked about the tightening financial pressure at his re-election campaign launch yesterday..."

    Re-election? Was he ever elected?

    Commenter
    You know wot I'm sayin'?
    Date and time
    April 16, 2012, 7:21AM
    • Answer today.

      Do not try to hide it in the last minute before the election.

      Commenter
      Ex-insider
      Date and time
      April 16, 2012, 7:23AM
      • Queenslanders getting rid of one government now gets to see how the books are ..... getting rid of a council would mean the same thing ... getting to see how the BCC books look.

        Commenter
        J. Fraser
        Location
        Queensland
        Date and time
        April 16, 2012, 10:32AM
      • Its a bit hard to hide nearly $2.4 BILLION in debt and the tunnels are not paying their debt off , just increasing the debt. Going by the LNP in W.A , since 2007 their debt has risen from $3 billion to about $22 BILLION and in a Mining Boom ? Power prices have gone up 57 % and going up another 13% soon and along with other gas, water etc etc have all gone up. This will be QLD's future under the LNP in 5-7 years. The Fiberals only look after their Rich Mates and developers and let the poor ratepayers pick up the tab.Just like the new big road to Russ Hinze's property under Joh . B.Peterson ?

        Commenter
        Lord Barry Bonkton
        Location
        qld
        Date and time
        April 16, 2012, 11:40AM
    • 'Deputy Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the forecast from Queensland Treaury Corporation had no bearing on council's decision on rates.
      He cited an instance when the QTC forecast that council would raise rates above the CPI in 2011-12...'

      Please, Adrian, this is precisely the crux of the story.
      You handed down an 'election' rates increase last year hoping to sneak into power, knowing full well you will have to raise rates well above CPI to catch up.

      Don't take me for a fool Adrian.

      Commenter
      You know wot I'm sayin'?
      Date and time
      April 16, 2012, 7:31AM
      • The BCC is turning into a Shrew Politician Factory. We've sem how a man who mismanaged Brisbane raised from the BCC walls holding slogans that became mantras at the las election. Now we are seeing these slick politicians managing a dizzingly deceitful campaign.

        Democracy can produce big mistakes. Just look at the democratically elected dictatorship we have ended up with. Anyone who thinks that our new government will not use every instrument they see fit to remain in power for thext 20-25 years are deluding themselves.

        Let's not compound our mistake by electing an LNP team to the BCC. It's not healthy and it isn't in the best interest of our state.

        Commenter
        Snake oil vendor
        Date and time
        April 16, 2012, 9:04AM
        • I don't think Quirk really deserves the blame for this; it's the fault of Campbell Newman and his ridiculous policy of building high-cost toll tunnels, which have driven spending levels too high. This same need to cover spending on the toll tunnels is also forcing Translink to make large increases in fares. And we just handed Newman the keys to the state. What next?

          Commenter
          Cygnus
          Location
          Whinger Central
          Date and time
          April 16, 2012, 9:17AM
          • what have the other canidates got to say about rates rises there are more than graham in this race

            Commenter
            max
            Location
            qld
            Date and time
            April 16, 2012, 9:22AM
            • 'Legacy' Way. So apt. And the final contract docs were signed quietly about a week after the floods, when most of Brisbane was calling for the project to be scrapped as totally unaffordable.

              Commenter
              Not impressed
              Location
              Toowong
              Date and time
              April 16, 2012, 9:26AM
              • We all know rates will rise because Newman went ahead with his projects and put this city in so much debt my daughters daughter will be paying it off. Quirk is not a leader he was slotted in when Newman saw an easy out. If the residents of Brisbane want higher rates, pay parking to go to the supermarket, a toll to use your own suburban road, 10 story apartment complexes in the burbs and more unused yellow bikes then elect Quirk.

                Commenter
                Tunnels Newman
                Date and time
                April 16, 2012, 9:38AM

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