May 16, 2012
South Burnett Regional Council CEO Ken McLoughlin warned today that Local Governments are at a tipping point … they must either raise rates, cut services or both.
Speaking at the statutory post-election meeting of the new Council, Mr McLoughlin urged South Burnett councillors to be “courageous” in their duties and not bow to popularism.
He said the South Burnett Regional Council faces a loss of $13 million in subsidies over the next few years from the State Government as well as as a yet-unknown impact on costs from the Carbon Tax.
These factors, and other costs, were leaving local governments in a precarious position.
“Do not be blindsided by short-term goals,” Mr McLoughlin told the councillors. “Do not pursue populism at the expense of strategic decision-making.”
He warned that the South Burnett also needed funding injections for roads, water systems and towns.
Mr McLoughlin attacked the Federal Government for not giving Local Government “a fair go” in the recent Budget.
He said the obvious solution was that the Federal Government should return to Local Government its legitimate share of funds collected via taxes such as the GST, PAYG and Company Tax
(read the full text of Mr McLoughlin’s speech here).
Speaking after the meeting, Mayor Wayne Kratzmann told southburnett.com.au that the Carbon Tax alone could cost the SBRC as much as $1.7 million a year.
“We won’t know the exact figure until we complete the Budget process,” he said, “but it’s a brand new cost we’d be happy not to have.”
And Cr Barry Green – who was appointed to oversee the SBRC’s new Water and Wastewater portfolio – shared his concern about the future costs of upgrading water and sewerage systems in the region’s major towns.
“I had an estimate this morning that we’ll need to inject $50 million into this area over the next decade,” he said.
“The old councils wanted to keep rate rises down so they didn’t invest very much in maintaining or upgrading infrastructure. But now we’ve reached the point where this work simply has to be done.”