Reaction across the region to the Maranoa Regional Councils’ Budget, delivered this week, continues to swell with the Mayors’ social media Facebook page receiving thousands of views and scores of comments.
In a pre-Budget proposal outline, released ahead of the Budget meeting, the Mayor again pushed for a rates freeze and productivity savings but the proposal was voted down 6-2 at this week’s Council meeting.
Residents across the region can now expect a rates rise this financial year of nearly 2 %.
Cr Geoff McMullen and Cr Tyson Golder voted in favour of the mayor’s budget outlines and Cr Peter Flynn was absent from proceedings.
Mayor Golder says it’s an outcome that disappoints him.
“We have a two-speed economy, some are doing well, and others are struggling. Losing 5 % of the early bird discount is going to be a big hit to families, I understand rate bills can be from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Now that is more money that families will have to find.”
“I had the personal view that before we asked for more money from our ratepayers, we needed to look internally – and there was a way for us to get productivity gains through this proposal.”
He was hopeful of achieving the rate freeze, a substantial discount of 10% for early payments of rates and his proposal pushed for a 20% savings in Council costs, coupled to productivity gains within Council.
The amended budget that has been passed will now see a 1.89% increase to residential rates and a decrease to early bird payment discounts.
Councillor Cameron O’Neil says the decision to vote down the Mayors proposals does not indicate a Council in conflict.
“There are more things that unite than divide us in this budget. We are a committee that can work together. Yes, we are a little bit frustrated by ending up with two budgets, but at the end of the day we’ve done what we’ve needed to do which is resolve the budget.”
“In my opinion the mayor’s proposal wasn’t financially viable long- term.”
Other councillors agree.
Cr David Schefe says the position reached is the one that works best for the region.
“If we had delivered a rate decrease, we would have been the only council in the state to do so. I had reservations with the mayor’s budget because I believe we would end up in the red by the end of financial year.”