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Supporting ratepayers and businesses while helping to boost the city's economic recovery are the central aims of Brisbane lord mayor Adrian Schrinner's second budget handed down on Wednesday morning.
A $142.5 million write down in revenue as a result of COVID-19 measures and declining development will sting the council coffers in the 2020-21 financial year, on the back of a $40 million hit in the first half of 2020.
Ratepayers will see the first rates freeze in 35 years. The rates freeze will apply for six months then rates will increase by 2.5 per cent on average from January.
The average owner-occupied annual rates amount for the 2020-21 financial year will be $1229.45 - excluding COVID-19 rebates. The minimum rate amount will be $752.12, up from $733.76 and a 2.5 per cent average increase in the 2019-20 budget.
First-home owners will now receive a full rebate on rates from October 1 if they are buying a new home, with those purchasing existing homes still eligible for a 50 per cent rebate.
Residents receiving JobSeeker payments will be eligible for a one-off $250 rebate on their rates bill, while renters will be included in the council’s free tip voucher scheme for the first time.
Pensioners will continue to receive a 40 per cent rebate on their rates bill, along with free off-peak travel on buses, CityCats and ferries.
Support for businesses in the form of the waiving of fees and charges, announced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will stay in place until the end of December.
The budget will feature $840 million for infrastructure projects including the Brisbane Metro, fast-tracking the Kangaroo Point and Breakfast Creek bridges, Victoria Park, new double-decker CityCats and upgrades to ferry terminals, parks, bikeways, walkways and roads, with 80 per cent of contracts going to businesses in the Brisbane and south-east Queensland region.
Public transport is also set to receive a $33.5 million boost, with the council to purchase 60 new buses - including 10 high-capacity articulated buses.
The lord mayor also confirmed the council and the state are in discussions about pop-up bike lanes through the CBD, pleasing cycling lobby groups who have been calling for such lanes since the pandemic began.
The Bellbowrie community has received a commitment from the council that it will go back to the drawing board on its proposed Belbowrie to Wacol green bridge, after consultation found residents did not support the plans.
And the Sherwood Arboretum will see $216,000 to kick start $1 million of works to coincide with its 100 year anniversary in 2025.
Residents with clutter in their homes, and eagle-eyed treasure hunters, will be disadvantaged by the two-year pause to the city's annual kerbside collection scheme. The temporary scrapping of the popular service will add $13 million to the council's coffers.
Brisbane Metro has seen an extra $300 million added to its cost, taking the total figure to $1.2 billion. Cr Schrinner has blamed the increase on an increase in labour costs as a result of the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement reached between the state government and unions working on the Queens Wharf project.
Councillors and council staff will see the already announced two-year pay freeze, in an attempt to claw back $36 million.
Community groups will have less discretionary funding from their local councillors after legislative changes forced the Lord Mayor's Community Fund to be slashed from $70,000 last financial year to $34,000 this year.
Funding has been allocated for community festivals, but many are still on hold or cancelled due to the pandemic.
From January 1 next year, parking fees will increase on average by 20 cents and application fees for a regulated parking permit will increase by $5 to $15.SOURCE: https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/brisbane-city-council-budget-at-a-glance-winners-and-losers-20200617-p553dq.html