Mayor Brett Otto, councillors and senior staff with the 2022-23 Budget approved by a majority of Councillors on Friday

July 8, 2022

South Burnett Regional Council approved a small 1.75 per cent rise in general rates at their Budget meeting on Friday, as well as the introduction of a fortnightly kerbside recycling service.

The rate rise, which is less than the current inflation rate of 5.1 per cent, is also smaller than increases adopted recently by adjoining councils.

Toowoomba’s rise was 2.5 per cent, Somerset 4 per cent and Western Downs 3.9 per cent; North Burnett ratepayers face increases of up to 8.7 per cent while Gympie Council has not yet held its Budget meeting.

The SBRC Budget was adopted in a split vote, 4-3, with Mayor Brett Otto, Cr Kathy Duff and Cr Jane Erkens opposed.

South Burnett ratepayers also face rises in other Council fees and charges.

Ratepayers will pay 6 per cent more in water charges and face a 3 per cent rise in sewerage charges.

Domestic waste collection charges will rise by 1 per cent.

The introduction of kerbside recycling will add another $70 to refuse charges this year (or $35 for concession card holders).

However, this cost won’t kick in until kerbside recycling starts in January, and it will only add $35 ($17.50 for pensioners) to this financial year’s total rates bill.

Schools, hospitals, commercial flats, caravan parks, hotels and motels also face higher second pedestal charges, with extra pedestals charged at $602 per year for hospitals and schools, and $411 a year for all others.

Fees and charges for other Council services rose by 3.5 per cent on July 1.

Council’s existing 10 per cent discount for early repayment and its annual $200 rebate for pensioners will remain, as will lower water and sewerage charges for those residents connected to the Proston Water Supply Scheme.

Residents who have seen a sharp increase in the latest round of land valuations will also be given a reprieve, with the Council applying three-year averaging to their general rates bills.

* * *

Over the next 12 month, Council proposes to spend $32.6 million on capital works.

This money will be spent in the following areas:

  • $17,188,489 on roads
  • $3,907,500 on fleet vehicles
  • $3,632,866 on water
  • $2,323,444 on NRM management and parks
  • $2,105,000 on buildings and properties
  • $1,644,435 on waste services
  • $1,453,700 on wastewater services

Major projects include:

  • Corndale Road widening ($1.59 million)
  • George Street car park in Kingaroy ($825,000)
  • Kumbia CBD renewal ($300,000)
  • Kingaroy median strip and Wondai roundabout upgrade ($800,000)
  • Nanango water treatment plant and supply ($490,000)
  • Maidenwell Transfer Station ($350,000)
  • Nanango weighbridge ($607,000)
  • Memorial Park, Kingaroy concept planning ($580,000)
  • Wondai swimming pool refurbishment ($560,000)
  • Murgon PCYC bathroom renovations ($380,000)
  • Gordonbrook Dam spillway works ($800,000)
  • Kingaroy Airport lighting ($386,000)
  • Kingaroy CBD revitalisation ($2,900,000)

Council has budgeted to spend $25.5 million on employee salaries and benefits, and a further $25.3 million on contracts, materials and services.

* * *

Cr Kirstie Schumacher
(Photo: SBRC)

During the meeting, Cr Kirstie Schumacher praised both Council staff and her colleagues for the work they put into preparing the Budget, noting it had required 20 workshops and committee meetings to prepare, along with many “robust discussions”.

“Setting this Budget has been the most challenging task of my working career and I would say that many of my colleagues and team members feel the same way,” she said.

“This is because we have a profound sense of responsibility to manage our ratepayers’ hard-earned dollars wisely. Councils are about core services – not profits – and our goal has been to ensure every dollar represents value.

She said the result strived to be as fair as possible, and to bear in mind the region had recently undergone trying times with more forecast in the year ahead.

“This is the people’s Budget. And just like the people of our region are cutting their expenses and household budgets to meet the pressures of rising costs of living, so too are we,” Cr Schumacher said.

She also emphasised the effect of cuts in Federal Government assistance.

“We have taken a direct hit with the loss of $500,000 in Federal Assistance Grants this year, and in preparing this Budget we accept that this shortfall is beyond the means of our ratepayers,” she said.

“Clearly, CPI, loss of funding and rising costs of materials are factors beyond our control.

“How we respond to them is what matters.”

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5 Responses to "South Burnett Rates Rise 1.75pc"

  1. The Council’s media release on their Facebook page today quotes the Mayor’s speech making this statement:

    “… To the people of our region, this is your money, this is your budget, this is your Council’s commitment to responsibly applying the funds provided by ratepayers and taxpayers towards building our region and providing you with a brighter future.”

    What a surprise to read here that the Mayor voted against a brighter future! As a dual ratepayer I appreciate the 1.75% rate rise rather than the current CPI rate.

    I still cannot answer my own question about where, as the slogan says “progressing the South Burnett”, is actually headed. Seems it’s more a political statement than a united vision of Council.

  2. I take my responsibility to vote in accordance with the expectations of the broader South Burnett community very seriously.

    My decision to vote against the Budget was taken after very careful consideration and after much community consultation right across the region.

    As expressed in my comments, I could not, in good concscience, support committing $1.5 million to a single major project to which the work will be given to ‘out of town’ contractors when doing so is in my view inconsistent with the State funding guidelines requiring the funding be allocated to “minor” community projects that create “local jobs”.

    I have consistently put forward a list of such projects compiled from extensive consultation with ratepayers across our entire region for some months now.

    These projects were contained in Councillor Duff’s motion to invest the funds on such minor projects across the broader region, including in Kingaroy and our smaller communities.

    I supported such because “progressing the South Burnett” is about ensuring every community (including our small towns and villages) across our region receives a fair opportunity to grow and prosper. That is the sort of region I am passionate about and the “unified vision” I consistently pursue in council.

    I make no apology for taking what I felt was the morally and ethically right position.

    There are some, with their own political agenda, who continue to push back against the position I take in honouring my commitment to represent “all people” in our region. Irrespective of where they live.

    As the mayor, my primary responsibility is to listen to all ratepayers, advocate for fair distribution of resources and act in the best interests of ALL people in our region.

    I will not waiver from this commitment.

    This is the truthful story that is not being told.

  3. I am wondering why the department where the grant comes from cannot intervene in this? And why are the councillors not in unison in spreading such funds fairly and evenly among all areas? When is the next election, is it next year?

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