June 25, 2018
South Burnett Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff says while she is broadly happy with Council’s 2018-19 Budget, changes to road funding and cuts to community groups are causing her concern.
“The merging of the road infrastructure levy into the general rate will particularly impact some of our rural producers as we move from a flat charge to a valuation-based levy,” Cr Duff said on Monday.
“We have been assured that with additional funds, the road team will be able to deliver a good value-for-money service, particularly in the area of road maintenance and gravel resheeting.
“Council needs to ensure our farmers’ businesses can grow and prosper with good transport routes.
“Ratepayers are calling for efficiency – and so are the Councillors – in delivery on the road network.”
Cr Duff said she also had concerns about extra costs being imposed on community groups.
“I don’t support these increases that now form part of our Budget,” she said.
“I think the small amount gained will not be worth the pain to these community champions.
“In many cases, these volunteers look after Council facilities and support our youth through sport.”
Cr Duff said that since amalgamation the Council had worked closely with community groups to get the balance of support right.
“I don’t support the changes to our rates remission policy,” Cr Duff said.
“However, I do support the overall Budget.
“But I will be watching the roads section and our volunteer base closely to see what the outcome is as we move forward.”
Finance portfolio chair Cr Ros Heit echoed the concerns of Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff about cuts in community support and rolling the Road Levy into the general rate.
Cr Heit said she thought the Budget was responsible, and reflected Council’s hard work to find efficiencies and ways to do things smarter.
“Many of these (improvements) have been well-received and others have come with some pain,” Cr Heit said.
“It is on record that I have disagreed with the reduction in the rates concessions for sporting groups, and I stand by that decision.”
Cr Heit said the decision to roll the Road Levy into the general rates was a bold move prompted by the frustration of being unable to maintain the rural road network without more funds.
But she questioned the impact it would have on farmers.
“Our rural producers – many of whom are in my division – will face increased rates due to the change from a flat rate to a valuation-based levy, which will be difficult,” Cr Heit said.
“However it is paramount that we enable our rural businesses to thrive, and to do that they need a workable road network.”
Cr Heit said she was pleased to see the Council would continue to employ trainees, which she believed was an investment in the region’s youth.
She also paid tribute to the Council’s ICT, Finance and Human Resources staff for delivering under often challenging conditions.