Cr Ros Heit explains how councils will rally together to increase the Federal financial assistance grants.
Cr Ros Heit explains how councils will rally together to increase the Federal financial assistance grants. Matt Collins

Councils rally to bring down rising rates

A DECREASE in Federal financial assistance grants has impacted the rising rates within the South Burnett over the past decade.

South Burnett councillor Ros Heit said many local councils across Australia were putting in a submission to increase the grants.

"Rates have significantly gone up, if you look at this with what we should be receiving in federal assistance grants, it would make a huge difference," she said.

The South Burnett Regional Council made the decision during their meeting on March 20 to support the Local Government Association of Queensland's advocacy campaign for the 2019 Federal Election.

This statewide initiative campaigns for the Financial Assistance Grant to be restored to at least one per cent of the Commonwealth taxation revenue.

The finance portfolio holder, Cr Heit, said the South Burnett Regional Council received less from the Federal grant than in 2008.

"We are significantly behind the eight ball in the amount of money received from the federal assistance grant, of course that's being reflected in the fact that we still need to maintain roads and swimming pools and everything else," she said.

With a lack of population growth in the South Burnett, like many smaller regional areas, the rates have had to go up.

"One percent would probably almost double the money we get from the federal assistance grant which would certainly be very well received by ratepayers," she said.

The Local Government Association of Queensland's argument is there should be more money for local councils, rather than the existing amount re-distributed between councils.

"We need to be consistent in saying what we need to increase the whole pie, in saying we all need more money," Cr Heit said.

The South Burnett is in a unique position by not being a larger population on the coast or a more regional council area out west.

"We're sort of middle of the road, I feel we are carrying a lot of the burden, we don't have a growing ratepayer rate," Cr Heit said.

"It'd be great if we had a couple of thousand of people building houses and paying rates, but that's not happening."

Any increase in the Federal Government's financial assistance grants will assist the South Burnett Regional Council in the development and funding of forward budgets and service delivery.

The South Burnett Regional Council will also be putting forward the financial assistance grants at the Australian Local Government Association's National General Assembly held in Canberra during June this year.

Mayor Keith Campbell said almost every council across the country would be supporting the financial assistance grants.

When councils submit like-motions they may be consolidated into broader resolutions which will hold more weight.

The grant was one of four resolutions the council agreed to submit to the national assembly, during their March general meeting.

The South Burnett Regional Council agreed to also submit resolutions in relation to water security, economic development stimulus and ongoing support for community hospitals and the building better regions program.

Cr Campbell said anything actively discussed at the general assembly would be taken to the relevant local government minister.

South Burnett

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