Queanbeyan City Council Rates and Charges

CityCARE will raise an additional $1.017 million per year. If approved, the introduction of CityCARE will see the average residential rate increase by around $51.63 per year or 99 cents per week. [Using the 2009-10 average residential rate of $890.17.]

This levy would be in addition to the Minister of Local Government’s annual permissible rate increase or rate peg which is set every year and would provide Council with an additional $1,017,758 per year to be spent on asset maintenance and renewal.

Council will use all the money raised for CityCARE to upgrade footpaths, roads, parks and sportsfields across the entire Queanbeyan City Local Government area. Council has developed three 5 year Works Programs to provide for these works.

In the first 5 year program covering from 2010 – 2015 this money will be used to:
• Allocate an additional $2,500,000 to reseal an additional 29.6kms of roads over and above the 67.9km planned as part of normal road maintenance.
• Allocate an additional $500,000 to repair 3990 identified trip hazards on our footpaths, and
• Allocate an additional $1,500,000 to resurface sports fields, upgrade amenities blocks, maintain parks and bring all our playgrounds up to appropriate standards.

If you have not seen QCCs CityCARE information booklet you can download a copy HERE.

We recently put a list of your questions to Council in an effort to gain additional information and a better understanding of Council finances and the CityCARE levy:
23 February 2010

Follow this link to download the PDF of: The QCC General Manager's 40 page response to the following questions - 2 March 2010

CityCARE Questions to Queanbeyan City Council
1. How did Council determine the CityCARE levy would be 5.8% and not some other number?
2. Will the proposed 5.8% CityCARE levy be enough to undertake all the required works and services currently identified by Council?
3. Was a single flat amount for the CityCARE levy considered as an option, rather than a percentage based on land value?
4. Can Council confirm that the CityCARE levy of 5.8% is only the first of more such levies intended by Council and Council management?
5. With regard to question above what would be the ultimate or desirable rate increase from the current level to satisfy Council’s longer term desires?
6. Effectively only two options have been proposed: 1. The status quo; and 2. increased rates revenue via a special CityCARE 5.8% levy on rates. Where any other options presented to or considered by Councillors, for example; Operational efficiency including reviewing services and operational administration costs; Review council real-estate assets with a view to selling off non-operational investment properties - Council playing landlord does not seem appropriate or a wise use of ratepayers dollars and; Investigate opportunities with ACTEW or other service providers re water & sewerage services with a view to freeing up the many millions of dollars held in trust for those purposes?
7. Has Council already lodged a special rate variation application with the Minister for Local Government or the Department of Local Government before the community consultation is complete?
8. For the purpose of satisfying the criteria for community consultation when applying for a special rate variation to the Minister for Local Government what community consultation benchmarks must a local government authority achieve in order to satisfy the community consultation criteria?
9. Compared to other comparable NSW Local Government Councils re residential rates charged - how does Queanbeyan rank? (In the context of Department of Local Government rankings)
10. Could you please advise the top 20 comparable NSW Local Government Councils and what each council would charge for residential rates of a UCV property of $250,000.
11. What percentage and number of ratepayers in the Qbn City Council area pay the minimum residential rateable amount?
12. Does Queanbeyan have a larger proportion of ratepayers that pay the minimum rateable amount, due to the large number of units etc, compared to others in the top 20 comparable NSW Local Government Councils, forcing the Queanbeyan 'average' to seem low compared to other areas.
13. What will be the CityCARE levy ‘average’ for Jerrabomberra ratepayers?
14. In the Resident & Ratepayers Forum 16 February 2010 there is a reference to Jerrabomberra being a timebomb. What is meant by the reference?
15. How much in dollar terms has been collected and what percentage of rates revenue collected from Jerrabomberra (postcode 2619) since 1987 has been re-invested directly into Jerrabomberra by Council (excluding s94 contributions).
16. How much has been saved or set aside for capital depreciation on Jerrabomberra located assets.
17. What is the current total amount held by Council in S94 funds?
18. With regard to the question above what areas benefit from S94 funds and what percentage of S94 is allocated to these areas?
19. With regard to the question above does Council have a plan to build facilities for improve services with S94 funds?
20. What is the approximate value of Council non-operational investment real-estate properties? What is the ratio of borrowings against these properties and how are these real-estate investments funded?
21. Could any of these properties referred to at the question above be sold off to help fund the building of new infrastructure and what is the longer term intention with these properties.
22. Regarding Council’s reported deficit: How much of this reported deficit, if any, involves depreciation on Council owned 'non-operational' real-estate investment properties e.g. Westpac Bank building etc.
23. With regard to Council’s deficit please advise in both percentage and dollar terms how much of Council’s deficit is real and how much deficit is ‘a paper deficit’ brought about by accrual accounting.
24. How much of the depreciation involves Council owned 'operational' real-estate properties e.g. The Q etc.
25. What would be the financial position of Council if depreciation was excluded?
26. What amount of Council’s budget in both dollars and percentage terms is allocated to roads?
27. Please list each of the services Councils provides to the community as funded by rates contributions?
28. With regard to the question above what core services are Council expected to provide to a community?
29. What is the actual cost to Council for each Council service supplied to each and every residence, not including excess water?
30. What sections of the Queanbeyan community who receive Council services do not pay rates? e.g. religious exemptions, State and Federal government exemptions, charities exemptions, sporting exemptions.
31. With regard to the question above what sorts of council services do they receive and what percentage of each category of service overall delivery does that represent?
32. With regard to the question above is a loading applied to ratepayers for the provision of Council services to areas such as Weetalabah, Jerrabomberra or The Ridgeway?
33. What services that should normally rest with State and Federal governments has Council taken responsibility for?
34. With regard to the question above how much funding does Council receive for the provision of such services?
35. What is Council’s total Community Services budget?
36. With regard to the question above how much of the Community Services budget is funded by other authorities and how much is costed to ratepayers?
37. What is the increase in Council staff numbers over the past 5 years?
38. What is the increase in staff costs over the past 5 years (including administrative overheads)?
39. What is the increase in total administration cost of running Queanbeyan City Council over the past 5 years?
40. Can you advise the participant category for each of the 40 invited attendees who took part in the Residents & Ratepayers forum held on 16 and 23 February 2010?
41. In the Residents & Ratepayers Forum Q&A a question was asked ‘can repair and maintenance be pegged to asset value’. What are the predictive modelling tools referred to in the answer, who are these tools used by and what guarantee is there they will give correct answers?
42. With regard to the question above how much is Council spending on consultants to use the predictive tools?
43. In the Residents & Ratepayers Forum Q&A reference was made to basic asset maintenance responsibilities. Please define basic asset maintenance responsibilities?
44. Was the CityCARE booklet delivered using the same service provider that recently delivered rates notices containing missing pages?
45. Is the effect of the Global Financial Crisis still regarded as a reason for requiring the additional funds?


CityCARE questions unanswered: 23 February 2010
Queanbeyan City Council’s CityCARE proposal is a hot topic, and many questions remain unanswered.
Questions including: Why 5.8%, and where did this number come from? Will it be enough to meet Council’s proposed maintenance programs, and beyond?
QCC need to answer these questions and more before Queanbeyan ratepayers can make considered judgment on CityCARE.
Council say ‘do nothing’ is not an option, yet offer no alternative to CityCARE, and plan to go ahead with CityCARE regardless of community views.
Given such murkiness, Council would be wise to defer its 2010 special rate variation application, and instead develop options over the next 12 months to gain community consensus.
Council may need to revise its community plan to ensure the community does want to fund Council’s community aspirations.
Of concern is Council’s aggressive behaviour towards ratepayers, and volunteer organisations such as the Jerrabomberra Residents Association, who dare question CityCARE. 
The JRA also has concerns Council is soliciting written support from sporting clubs who desperately need their facilities maintained.  
Some may suggest this is morally wrong.
Council’s CityCARE proposal means many ratepayers will pay at least $100.00 extra in the first year and a greater increase each following year.
This heavy slug, to pay for 'core Council business’, on Queanbeyan’s working families could see children and seniors forced to go without.
CityCARE is hardly equitable when one considers the 20% pay increase given recently to Council senior staff.
With interest rates on the rise, CityCARE will put further pressure on ratepayers and may make Queanbeyan unaffordable for some.
CityCARE questions put to the Residents and Ratepayers meeting on 16 February 2010. The General Manager, Mr Gary Chapman has provided a response to each of the questions.
In response to the following Media Release Council sent the JRA this letter of complaint.

JRA Media Release: 26 January 2010
Something’s not right when 70 per cent of residents say they were not aware of Queanbeyan City Council’s proposed 5.8 per cent CityCARE levy.

Council’s $1m-plus a year 15-year cash grab proposal was dropped among pre-Christmas junk-mail. Why, with such significant impact on Queanbeyan, was information not sent direct to ratepayers?

Over the last two Saturday’s the Jerrabomberra Residents Association spoke individually to over 100 families at the Jerrabomberra Village Shopping Centre to gain views on CityCARE.

The majority of residents criticised the lack of information from Council.

QCC want a $1m-plus a year from ratepayers, on top of maximum annual rate increases, to fund three 5-year asset maintenance and renewal programs for roads, footpaths and parks.

Council say CityCARE will, on average, cost residential ratepayers $51.63 a year or 99 cents a week, using the 2009-10 average residential rate of $890.17.

Jerrabomberra makes up 25 per cent of Queanbeyan’s population, and residents say they pay 2-3 times QCCs claimed average rate.

Many streets lack footpaths, most roads are new and we have little, if any, sporting facilities infrastructure.

Now Council is asking us to pay for the upkeep of things we don’t have.

Jerrabomberra ratepayers say they don’t want their rates aligned with other NSW regional centres.

Most residents moved here from Canberra, and most travel there for work.

Compare apples with apples, don’t compare us to Orange.

Residents believe their rates already pay for the activities covered in the proposed CityCARE levy.

So where is our money going, if not already into the upkeep of infrastructure?

Ratepayers need a lot more information before they can support CityCARE.

NOTE: If Council's proposed 5.8% levy increase on top of maximum allowed annual rate increase is approved it will likely exceed CPI and annual wage increases of most Jerrabomberra residents.