SLIGHT RISE: Rates have risen 1.9 per cent in 2018/19, with a $15 increase in waste charges.
SLIGHT RISE: Rates have risen 1.9 per cent in 2018/19, with a $15 increase in waste charges.

Noosa ratepayers $100 better off

NOOSA ratepayers are now nearly $100 a year better off than their Sunshine Coast "city” counterparts.

And it's a big acknowledgement of the more than 80 per cent of Noosa residents who wisely chose to vote for council de-amalgamation, which saw our shire once again be in charge of its municipal destiny.

Despite a big scare campaign during the de-amalgamation debate, where 'experts' and cynics suggested Noosa's rates would go up by as much as $260 in the first year, and $142 each year thereafter, it never happened.

As anticipated, Noosa Shire Council last Friday adopted its 2018/19 budget, with a 1.9 per cent overall increase to the minimum general rate, plus a $15 increase in waste charges, thus keeping the rate rise close to the CPI.

Residents on the minimum general rate in Noosa will pay a total of $1532 in fees and charges, up $36 on 2017/18 - but the equivalent property on the minimum general rate in the Sunshine Coast Council region will pay a total of $1624, or $94 more than Noosa, and the trend is likely to continue.

Mayor Tony Wellington said almost two-thirds of Noosa properties are on the minimum general rate.

"Adding that 1.9 per cent rate rise plus the additional $15 waste charge will see their overall increase on last year hit 2.4 per cent,” Cr Wellington said.

"A property on the minimum general rate that paid $1496 for all rates, levies and waste charges last year will pay $1532 in 2018/19.

"That means $36 more than last year. This equates to an increase of 70 cents per week for around 66 per cent of Noosa home-owners.

"If they pay their rates on time, they will get a further discount of five per cent on the minimum general rate.”

No levies have been increased this year, and council has also managed to flatten out what were high land value increases in many parts of the shire for minimal impact.

It's an ongoing irony that Noosa is seen as a rich region, while in reality it's coping with high land values at the same time as having lower average household incomes than most of the state.

"There were a number of factors on our collective minds [in preparing the budget],” Cr Wellington said.

"The first was that Noosa Shire experienced a very significant land valuation increase from the valuer-general. Land values in the shire jumped from a total of $8billion to $8.9billion. In effect, this meant that the average increase across the shire was 11.3 per cent.

"The other factor weighing heavily on our minds was that there would be an inevitable increase in waste charges, primarily flowing from China's virtual ban on importing recyclables. Staff have done a terrific job negotiating with our recycling contractor, Visy, and have managed to keep the waste increase to just $15 per household.”

With the possible impacts of the new waste charges and land valuations, council wanted to ensure that Noosa ratepayers were not overly burdened, the mayor said.

"Whilst there are no doubt locals for whom a rate rise is no great impost, there are plenty of other residents in our shire that need to keep a close eye on their household budgets,” he said.

"With these folk firmly in mind, we have managed to find savings across the organisation and still introduce some new initiatives.”

Alan Lander