Virus blows budget: What Noosa ratepayers can expect
Noosa residents paying the general rate will not receive a COVID-19 hit in the hip pocket this Friday, despite council's financial expert forecasting the first budget deficit since the 2014 de-amalgamation.
Noosa Council director of corporate services Michael Shave said a minimum general rate increase of $21, or 1.88 per cent - in line with the Queensland local government cost index - would be offset by service charge reductions.
The new-look Noosa Council under mayor Clare Stewart at this Friday's special 10am meeting will adopt a $125 million budget with operating expenditure of $98 million, capital expenditure budget of $24.6 million and loan repayments of $2.4 million.
While there will be a three-bin waste collection charge increase of $6.50 (up 1.93 per cent), decreases in the environment levy of $14 (20 per cent), public transport levy of $7.50 (25 per cent) and heritage levy of $5 (50 per cent) will ensure no increase in the total minimum general rates bill.
"The development of the 2020/21 budget has been challenging within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on business as usual council operations," Mr Shave said.
"The application of these assumptions has resulted in an overall COVID-19 specific financial impact of $3.2 million, primarily relating to the gradual relaxing of social distancing restrictions in addition to the flow-on impacts of a likely prolonged economic recovery for the shire.
"In order to mitigate the financial risk of the COVID-19 budget impacts for ratepayers, a further review of discretionary expenditure has resulted in reductions of $2 million, with the net remaining financial impact of COVID-19 forecast at $1.2 million for 2020/21," he said.
The forecast rates and utility charges revenue is $68 million, with $2.2 million offered for early payments, $675,000 for pensioner concessions and general rate donations for community organisations ($141,000) continuing.
"An average residential property on the minimum general rate will receive no increase in total rates and charges for the 2020/21 financial year," Mr Shave said.
"Social distancing measures introduced in March 2020 and the ongoing uncertainty regarding the timing of the easing of these restrictions has required the application of a number of conservative revenue and expenditure assumptions to the development of the budget, to ensure that immediate going concern risks could be appropriately considered.
"This approach also ensures that key levels of service to the community will not be compromised, and the benefits of the investment of council funds via local business procurement can continue to ensure the local economy is supported to assist with its recovery."
While Mr Shave is forecasting a budget deficit, he has his accounting fingers crossed for a better outcome.
"Any actual upside resulting from the bounce back of council revenues more quickly than forecast will return council to an operating surplus position consistent with previous years," he said.