Rates and roads on top of agenda

RURAL rates and the state of the road network were the hot topics at Central Highlands Regional Council community consultation meetings at Orion and Gindie in February.

The rates issue “should balance out” with new valuations to be released in June this year, according to the meeting minutes, which may delay council handing down its 2011/2012 budget.

CHRC corporate services general manager Andrew Brown told landowners valuations in grazing areas may drop substantially, up to 50% in the former Duaringa and Bauhinia shires.

Conversely, valuations in small towns like Blackwater, Capella and Duaringa could increase up to 30%.

Deputy Mayor Paul Bell said the new valuations should “settle concerns because we will have consistency across the region”.

AgForce representative Chris Rolfe said she had met with the head valuer and told those present the 2006-07 valuations “got out of hand because of some sales”.

Civil Operations general manager Bill Turner said after the early 2010 flooding across the region, council had $5 million in restoration work.

This time 2500-3000km of council’s road network required repairs with crews working six days a week.

Mr Turner said the criterion was if they could be driven on, they were not a priority.

“This year there is $10-12 million emergent work and the restoration work could be $60-70 million,” the minutes noted.

“The priorities for council are to provide access to affected properties and enable cattle movements to resume.

“Council has a substantial number of contractors working on this.

“…gravel sourcing will be a problem and is a priority. Floodway improvements are also a priority, as is drainage works.”

Meanwhile, non-payment of debts accrued by big companies in liquidation all the way through to $10 library defaulters, has forced the Central Highlands Regional Council to write-off $174,421.

Corporate Services general manager Andrew Brown urged council to adopt a “more assertive” recovery process in future to ensure debtors remained at manageable levels.

As a result, council will now cease work on any account that hasn’t been paid within 60 days, with the debtor unable to have further dealings without an advance payment.

Mr Brown’s report said a lack of focus on debt recovery had become evident, leading to an extensive review of all monies outstanding to council and their level of recoverability.

Council’s biggest exposure was to Camco Contractors, now in liquidation, owing $85,037.44 for the supply and delivery of product from Shepton quarry.

“…gravel sourcing will be a problem and is a priority.”

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