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Councillors reject Mayor's rate freeze budget

Deputy Mayor Jan Chambers, Cr Peter Flynn, Cr Puddy Chambers and Cr David Schefe.
Deputy Mayor Jan Chambers, Cr Peter Flynn, Cr Puddy Chambers and Cr David Schefe. Christian Berechree

MARANOA councillors are deeply divided after the majority of council outvoted the mayor's proposed budget on Monday morning.

Mayor Tyson Golder tabled a $81.4 million budget that included a rates freeze, a promise he made to Maranoa residents during his election campaign.

"Make no mistake, I believe this rates freeze or reduction in rates for the whole of the Maranoa is very affordable," he said in Monday's budget meeting.

"When put in context, it will be approximately 39% of council's expected spend on the planned multi-purpose facility of the Roma Saleyards."

Deputy mayor Jan Chambers opposed the mayor's budget, with the support of Crs Janelle Stanford, Cameron O'Neil, Wendy Newman, Peter Flynn, Puddy Chandler and David Schefe.

Only Mayor Golder and Cr Geoff McMullen voted for the budget.

"The decision made today by the majority of councillors was that adopting the mayor's budget would be financially irresponsible," Cr Chambers said.

"I am now in my 14th year as a councillor and today we are experiencing something totally different to all previous budgets, in that the mayor chose to present his own budget."

"The Local Government Act refers to the budget as being the mayor's budget but the usual process is that all councillors, including the mayor and staff, have a series of workshops throughout the budget process to come to a consensus on what will be contained in the budget," the deputy mayor said.

Cr Chambers said the mayor did not attend workshops leading up to Monday's formal budget meeting.

"The workshop process is an opportunity for all elected representatives in attendance to put forward projects, ideas and policy directions that were debated, prioritised, supported, or not supported to form part of this year's budget. It was unfortunate that the mayor chose not to participate in what is a core role of being part of a council," she said.

"Most councillors saw their responsibility to the community as being part of the team to develop this budget."

Cr Chambers said councillors tried to achieve the right balance across the rates categories in the amended budget.

"The total general rates revenue, as proposed, will see a 1.84% increase.

"For a Residential A property, this will equate to a total increase of $52.40 for the year. Just over a dollar a week," she said.

Cr Chambers said it was not an easy decision but it was the right decision for the council to adopt a budget that had been formulated through the extensive workshop process.

"The easiest decisions are not always the right decisions and the hard decisions are not always the popular ones," she said.

"The rating revenue that is tabled as part of the proposed amendments considers the challenges of new land valuations, council's falling revenue due to the declining activity in the region, and the rising costs felt by all businesses and households," she said.

The amended budget was adopted 7-2, with Mayor Golder and Cr McMullen voting against.

Topics:  budget 2017-18 editors picks maranoa regional council roma


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