YOUR SAY: Electioneers on council money and cost of living
IN THE lead up to your local elections on March 28, we are asking council candidates two questions each week about the region.
This week's questions were:
How should the council's money be spread across the region?
Do you think the cost of living is too high, and can anything be done about it?
Kerry Hayes, Mayor (incumbent)
In the four years that I have been mayor, the amount of capital spent across the region has increased dramatically. About $65M annually is spent on critical infrastructure either being renewed upgraded or on new projects. Roads still take the larger share at around 35 per cent, but much more is spent on improving the liveability of all our communities. It is not distributed by the number of residents in our individual townships but rather by engagement and sensible assessment of individual community needs. Value has been critical part of our decision making and our residents insist that it applied to all our investments regardless of the size of their community.
Costs of living in regional QLD are always higher. It affects the cost of services and business and council is no different. Our part is to manage our business as efficiently as possible so that our fees and charges are as cost effective as they can be.
Charlie Brimblecombe, Councillor (incumbent)
The money should be spread fairly and equitably. The size of the communities need to be taken into consideration along with the importance of the need to that region/community. We need to be mindful of sustainability and liveability.
The cost of living is high, but many factors come into that from state and federal level as well as the commercial sector. It is not easy. I really don't know what the solution is other than keeping our communities vibrant and liveable with services available to those communities.
Megan Daniels, Councillor (incumbent)
The budget is spread across all communities. Community reference groups have been set up in each community to provide input.
The focus is to deliver adequate services, e.g. libraries, planning and development along with repairs and maintenance to council infrastructure, e.g. roads, parks, water and sewerage.
Demand across this large region is always going to be bigger than what can be delivered from every wish list. Small towns are just as important as big towns; their needs are just different.
I don't know anyone that isn't feeling the impact of the cost of living. It is a battle for every council in Australia.
At the local government level the big ticket item is rates. As a councillor I am conscious of keeping rates sustainable so that people can afford to live here. But in doing this we have to prioritise what we can and can't deliver.
Alan McIndoe, Councillor (incumbent)
When it comes to spending rate payer money, it is all about the best "return on investment". We invest back into all our communities to deliver on our core responsibilities and enhance opportunities for people to achieve their individual goals.
At the same time we deliver on core infrastructure that allows beautiful showers at the turn of a tap, or the removal of poo from your home at the push of a button. Magical! I feel that council does a good job in getting the balance right.
I don't know of anyone, anywhere, that says the cost of living is too low. We need to reduce what we read and believe on Facebook and use technology to better self-educate and band together.
Under the Australian Constitution the power is still with the people. Should we continue to do the same as we have done, we will continue in the direction we are going.
Janice Moriarty, Councillor
Rates and funding received by council should be distributed based on the priorities and needs of all communities within the region. Council can consult and work with people to better understand community needs and set priorities. Rates should be spent fairly and grants and subsidies should be spread across our towns and localities. Council services should not be allocated solely based on population size.
The cost of living continues to rise, especially in rural and regional areas like the Central Highlands. It is the responsibility of councils to keep rates and charges at a minimum by managing costs and being efficient. Council also advocates on behalf of the community to state and federal governments and large corporations to reduce costs such as water, electricity, registrations and airfares.
CHRC can play a role in improving liveability and affordability in our region.
Christine Rolfe, Councillor (incumbent)
Councillors are elected as representatives of the 13 communities across our large regional council area. These communities have their unique issues and requests they raise with councillors or through community reference groups.
As a representative of these communities, I look forward to working through issues, either a funding application or council service.
This is a bigger question than can be answered effectively here. I will start the conversation with; of the three major economic drivers in this region, agriculture and tourism are seasonal and cyclical, and coal mining has highs and lows. These fluctuations affect individual cashflows, and ultimately the whole community economy. Council as a large employer in the region has to continually advocate for funding from State and Federal Governments to support communities in the region.