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Council To Cut Community Funds … Again

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The South Burnett Regional Council is considering a second round of funding cuts as it desperately searches for more money to fix the region’s road network

South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell (Photo: SBRC)

April 16, 2018

The South Burnett Regional Council has announced plans to make even deeper cuts to community funding in a bid to find more money for road maintenance.

Last April the Council brought in changes to its Community Grants programs and hall hire rebates which saw it begin tighten its purse strings towards volunteer groups.

On Monday, Mayor Keith Campbell released a statement saying Council was now considering charging community groups for water, sewerage and garbage collection in its 2018-19 Budget.

The move is expected to raise $61,948 in 2018-19, and a further $55,537 in 2019-20; ie. a total of $117,285.

southburnett.com.au understands the move is likely to double the annual charges some community groups currently pay, and there are fears this could even cause some to fold.

Affected groups are expected to receive a letter from Council in the next few weeks detailing the changes and what it will cost them.

Groups to be affected include organisations such sporting clubs and not-for profit organisations such as the QCWA.

Mayor Campbell said the cuts had been forced on Council after a recent study indicated at least $10 million would need to be spent on the region’s unsealed roads over the next two years to bring them up to scratch.

Extra money would also need to be spent on the region’s sealed road network to carry out routine maintenance.

The Mayor said the study meant the Council had to look for extra savings and efficiencies in other parts of its operations.

“A number of changes to reduce expenditure have been made in recent years, including a reduction of 15 staff positions in the past nine months,” Mayor Campbell said.

“This will provide savings of approximately $1 million in the upcoming Budget.

“But the reality is that we need to find further savings if we’re going to improve the current level of service provided to our road network.”

The Council currently spends about 47 per cent of its annual budget on road maintenance.

Mayor Campbell said the Council already provided about $600,000 a year in funding support to community organisations through concessions on rates and charges ($323,400), its Community Grants Program ($241,500) and hall hire fee remissions ($50,000).

“Over the past year Council has reviewed and made changes to this community support funding except in the area of concessions on rates and charges,” Mayor Campbell said.

“Councillors now consider this practice needs to be reviewed, and groups make a contribution towards costs that are currently being paid for by the rest of the ratepayers – for example water, waste water and waste collection.

“In most cases, groups will still receive a remission on their General Rate, Environmental Levy, Waste Management Levy, Community Rescue Levy, Road Levy and State Fire Levy,” the Mayor said.

“Council’s approach will be to try to recover a portion of the costs for water, sewerage and waste collection.”

Assets sales and service closures are two other areas the Council is also considering.

“Any savings emerging from this evaluation would improve our financial position and our ability to provide more funds to roadworks,” the Mayor said.

“Councillors are responsible for managing Council’s business in a responsible, fair and equitable manner, and supporting community organisations at the current level is commendable if you can afford it.

“However, when it’s technically ‘giving away’ ratepayers money at the expense of denying them roads they would be happy to live with, we have a dilemma.

“Once Council has developed a funding model to clear its backlog, we then need to ensure there is enough money in future budgets to properly maintain and replace roads and other assets on an ongoing basis.

“Our region’s road problems can only be fixed by providing more money in the Budget to get our assets to an appropriate level, then keep them there.”

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6 Responses to Council To Cut Community Funds … Again

  1. Bill McIntyre

    So the funds generated through this process regarding community rebates for water, sewage and waste collection will not go to those seperate schemes (as defined in the annual report) but go straight to road maintenance? What I think the Mayor and the majority of councillors don’t understand is that community groups are made up of ratepayers, they aren’t some alien group in the community not contributing anything. Get out of the ivory tower in Glendom Street and talk to community groups before you make this decision.

    What this will mean is that parishioners will have to put more in the collection plate, sporting clubs will have to charge more for membership fees (bearing in mind young families already struggle to afford kids in junior sports) – all to generate $120,000 towards a $10,000,000 target.

    Here’s a tip: I’m still going to whinge when funds get to $10M, and will still whinge if it got to $15M as my road won’t be graded as often as I believe it should be. But rest assured Councillors Campbell, Frohloff, Jones, Potter and Fresser you will hear from me when community groups fall over because they can’t justify paying the extra costs to Council.

  2. Cap'n McRummy

    Perhaps they should look at putting the new beautification of the CBD on hold since we don’t have enough funds for the important stuff.

  3. Nina Temperton

    Go Kathy and Ros! The roads will never be perfect or anywhere near that but if this obsession continues there won’t be any community worth living in.

    (I am bracing for the lecture that tells me I lack the insight to understand Council thinking)

  4. Moira Reilly

    Community groups provide many and varied benefits to the South Burnett population. Volunteers work tirelessly and their efforts increase the wellbeing and quality of life for local people. I believe it is short-sighted of the council to propose to increase the running cost for these valuable groups. The money raised will be of negligible assistance to the road budget however could cause devastating effects on community groups. would like to hear the opinions of all councillors on this matter. I congratulate Kathy Duff and Ros Heit for their expressed opposition to the proposal.

  5. John Box

    About time Councillors had a reality check on the community demographic of who drive the volunteer groups in our South Burnett Community. The highest proportion of community members who volunteer and respond to Council surveys are over 60.

    Due to work, family and other commitments, the majority of younger people choose not to be involved with community service. Once the oldies can no longer keep giving, contributing and volunteering in our community the majority of not for profit volunteer organizations will cease to exist and the community as we know it will fall apart.

    Council cannot afford to lose these organizations as they would never be able to afford to provide all or even part of the services the volunteers currently provide.

    It’s one thing to balance the books but entirely another to throw the baby out with the bath water and lose community connectiveness and the fabric that ties our rural communities together.

    Thank you Crs Kathy Duff and Ros Heit for opposing the proposed draconian cuts to community service spending

  6. Volunteers not only give generously of their time, skills, friendship, and knowledge, but it often costs them money to volunteer – travel, meals, family or friends taking time off work to get them to and from events.

    Most people do not begrudge this, as they want to make our community better and stronger. But to see the Council forever taking away just kicks them in the guts quite frankly.

    Not-for-profit groups have already lost places to train and meet, and applying for grants can be costly and time-consuming.

    If we’re to have a new breed of younger volunteers to come forward to replace those who are retiring or taking a well-earned break, these continued attacks on volunteer groups need to stop. Volunteering, paying it forward, giving to others, having a go – all these things are what unites our South Burnett community and makes it special.

    Our community rallies around when times are tough. Our community generously helps others. In the lead-up to Anzac Day, these values are even more significant.

    If our elected representatives and our regional council staff cannot set an example, please do not criticise younger generations if they fail to step forward in future. Please don’t make giving to others, giving up valuable time a community group member could be with loved ones, studying, or making money in paid jobs, more difficult than it is.

    There are many people who wish to volunteer but are time-poor and/or on limited budgets. With every hardship that is placed on not-for-profit, volunteer, sporting, and community groups, there are more obstacles placed in the way of their survival.

    And then people will stand up and complain that no one cares.

    Thanks to Crs Kathy Duff and Ros Heit who do care, and who are opposing these cuts.

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