September 21, 2020
Cr Gavin Jones has defended the South Burnett Regional Council’s original decision to increase standpipe water prices by 150 per cent, arguing it was necessary to ensure to ensure the service can continue into the future.
And he has rejected criticism that he is taking too businesslike an approach to his work as a Councillor.
Instead, he says, his primary concern is to ensure the Council is able to maintain its current services into the future.
“The Local Government Act has five principles, and one of the most important is the sustainable development and management of assets and infrastructure, and delivery of effective services,” Cr Jones said.
“Council has business units such as water and sewerage, roads, rubbish collection and so forth, and a user-pays process applies to these business units.
“This means they need to cover their own costs and not draw funds from the general account.
“But only people who use those services pay for them.
“Farmers, for example, don’t pay for water because their farms aren’t connected to the water supply system.”
Cr Jones said this “user pays” system had applied since the South Burnett Regional Council was formed, and it helped ensure Council’s services were sustainable.
“When I say sustainable, I am not speaking as a for-profit business,” Cr Jones said.
“Council needs to cover its own costs to be sustainable. If we continually run a deficit or use our reserves, there will be no money for services.
“I would hate to become a council that is financially unsustainable or dependent on others – I certainly don’t want our Council to fall into that category.”
Cr Jones said he believed all councils were judged on their financial performance.
Because of this, Council could not meet all the demands of residents all the time because it had to work within its budgets.
“But I totally understand that Council is a not-for-profit service to the community,” Cr Jones said.
“If we continue to run at a deficit and not be sustainable we cannot continue to deliver services to the people of this region at the level they expect.
“Council is a cost-neutral service to our community.
“I personally have never attempted to run Council at a profit and don’t ever expect to, but I’m certainly committed to providing a consistent service level.”