Ipswich City Council will hand down the 2020-21 budget this week.
Ipswich City Council will hand down the 2020-21 budget this week.

Past council’s actions will have impact on new budget

IPSWICH mayor Teresa Harding says wasteful spending by the previous council in combination with a struggling economy due to COVID-19 has significantly impacted the first budget post-administration.

Ipswich City Council will hand down its 2020-21 budget on Tuesday but Cr Harding said the new council's "hands were tied" due to past financial decisions.

In order to deliver on Ipswich's huge capital works program, the budget will have a proposed operating deficit of $8.7 million.

Cr Harding said this "abuse of power and blatant misuse" of ratepayer funds would be revealed in the council's launch of its transparency and integrity hub on Wednesday.

The city's first female mayor said the past council had deferred planned spending of up to $150 million on vital community infrastructure, including Springfield roads which are now over capacity, while still increasing debt.

"Opening the once hidden books of council's past controlled entities has been tormenting and heartbreaking," she said.

"The abuse of power and blatant misuse of ratepayers' monies was ethically and morally wrong on so many levels.

"The lack of governance and accountability and poor project prioritisation has put us further behind the eight ball."

Cr Harding said poor decisions by past councils were being felt now and the council was not properly prepared for difficult economic times being felt around the country.

She said the forecast on Ipswich's $600 million annual budget was concerning.

"They prioritised expenditure elsewhere. Some of those poor decisions are hurting the community now as we can't afford the infrastructure," she said.

"It is estimated that council's 2020-21 budgeted revenue could be reduced by around $23 million as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.

"This includes impacts of reduced fees and charges collected from developers due to slowing growth rates, and potential further waivers of license fees and permits to provide some relief to businesses, community and sporting groups."

Cr Harding said a below-CPI rates rise last year had also reduced her council's financial capacity.

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