Maranoa residents express concern over council restructure
To date, there has been an overwhelmingly negative response from Maranoa residents who were asked to weigh in on Maranoa Regional Council’s controversial $1 million- plus plan to restructure council and the way its 350 employees operate.
The plans of the proposed restructure - a one page graphic of a chart - were released to the community on January 8 to detail what has been described as potentially the biggest change to the organisation since amalgamation, and in less than a week the vast majority of responses on council’s feedback website show ratepayers now have more questions, than answers and are demanding more information.
“When I downloaded the proposed organisational structure, I expected to read more than just a chart,” a member from the public wrote on the Have Your Say council forum.
“We are talking about a multimillion-dollar organisation making an extremely important decision with very limited information.”
The chart provided, emphasises mayor Tyson Golder’s “operating local” policy that he based his 2020 election campaign on, a proposal that would appoint an individual council director to individual towns to focus on issues like land, roads, waste parks, water, sewerage, pools, libraries, galleries and more,
Cited as the biggest decision to be made by council in 13 years, an approval of the proposed operating structure would result in the region to be serviced by different shires similar to before amalgamation in 2008, for example, Roma (Roma), Bungil (Injune), Bendemere (Wallumbilla, Yuleba and Jackson), Warroo (Surat) and Booringa (Mitchell).
Like most of the concerns expressed by residents, one member who states they are a forth generation Maranoa resident and current business owner, believes at minimum, the public should have received a report, including a thorough business case detailing the need for the restructure; the benefits; the impact on the community, businesses, council staff; the costs including initial costs and ongoing costs; analysis of how the benefits will outweigh the costs of the restructure; feasibility study; will departments have their budgets reduced.
Despite Cr Golder saying this will be a “fantastic opportunity” for the Maranoa, one member reviewed other regional councillors and struggled to comprehend why Maranoa council would need eight directors, when councils like Western Downs and Toowoomba Regional Council operate with less.
A lot of members asked where these eight directors would be plucked from – would they be existing council employees or will they be employed and provided a house and car?
“The mayor and Unity Maranoa were elected to our council with one of their election promises to put local back into the towns,” one member said, who states they are an employee of council.
“To stay true to that, the employment of the proposed five directors and five overseers should also come from local, from within each town, with local knowledge being the most relevant skill … or will we end up with 10 FIFO blow-ins, who only last a couple years in the bush,” they questioned.
Thinking locally, residents stated the proposed $1 million-plus would be better spent on fixing roads or upgrading the Roma pool.
The majority stated that reverting to pre-amalgamation would be returning to a model that was recognised as inefficient and costly and simply means council are going “backwards”.
Others however believed it’s an “excellent opportunity to deliver worthwhile outcomes” as each director will be held accountable for that particular area and thanked council for allowing residents to provide feedback.
You can have your say on the proposed Organisational Structure here: https://haveyoursay.maranoa.qld.gov.au/maranoa-regional-council-organisational-structure