At last week’s special budget meeting, each councillor was given the chance to rise and speak on the 2017 budget. Here is what each councillor had to say about this year’s changes.
Division 1: Nigel Waistell. This budget continues the move to correct the imbalance between rural, residential and commercial rates. Many residents ask why can there be a zero per cent rate rise. If that were to happen council would be going backwards. I urge members of the public to read the budget papers online and see exactly where their money is going, it is not just for rubbish collection. I believe this is a budget for the future and I will be supporting it.
Division 2: Nadia O’Carroll. Our region is experiencing significant change at the moment and this budget aims to identify the opportunities that come with that change. Previously the residential rates people pay has been disproportionate and this budget seeks to address that.
Division 3: Virginia West. This budget will secure the long term financial management of our region. We have been ranked among the most sustainable councils in the state and this $141.5 million spend ensures the delivery of a shared vision for the future.
Division 4: Michael Enright. This budget benefits rural, commercial and residential residents and I will be supporting it. It was developed to keep our rates in line with similar sized councils in south-east Queensland. We have a responsibility to maintain a strong financial sustainability for the future success of our region.
Division 5: Rick Stanfield. Council is a business and as a business we have a monopoly, our customers have no other option but to pay their rates through us. This brings great responsibility to the roles that we play and that is why I cannot support this budget. Small businesses will pay several fold more than what they did last year. I cannot see the economic indicators to support these rises. This is the first time in 19 years I am voting against a budget, but I just cannot justify the steep rises for some people.
Division 6: Duncan McInnes. This budget has many good points and seeing only small increases for 90 per cent of ratepayers is certainly good news. But I also have some issues with this budget. I do not think it is logical to assess other councils to decide our rates, I think we should look at the factors specific to our region. It is possible that some businesses will be paying three and four times more on their rates next year, in particular turf and chicken farms and service stations.
I think we underestimate the employment that these businesses bring. If we make life too hard for these businesses, we risk the hundreds of jobs they bring to the region.