Cr Ros Heit wants to reduce South Burnett rates
HELD on March 19, 2016, the local government election delivered the South Burnett a new mayor and several new councillors.
We asked all councillors five questions to get their reflection on this Council's first year.
Here is what Councillor Ros Heit had to say:
What are you most proud of achieving for your division over the past year?
My division is by far the largest and includes a lot of rural roads. I'm proud that the new council recognised the need to invest more in maintenance of unsealed roads and over the past year we have upgraded a number of roads, although there is still a long way to go which is often frustrating. The 'Works for Queensland' funds will now continue with gravel re-sheeting of a number of roads which will significantly improve them. It's certainly a huge challenge to get and keep all our rural roads to an acceptable standard.
How do you feel the past twelve months have gone?
Quickly, I can't believe it's 12 months already! The Council was significantly changed at the last election with four new councillors who have brought new viewpoints to the table. For me the change to half yearly rates, investing in road maintenance, putting on 10 new trainees, my involvement in the book recognising our locals Anzacs, my contribution to Wondai park run and reducing our long term debt have been particular highlights.
What were your biggest challenges over the past year, both personally and professionally?
On a personal note over the last twelve months I have got back to 100 % fitness after my health scare in 2015. I'm enjoying training for my first half marathon and grateful for good health. Professionally the challenge is always to make decisions in the best interests of the community when there are always valid and divergent views. I pride myself on always doing my homework on each issue so my decision will be well informed and made ethically and with integrity to benefit the current and future residents of the South Burnett.
What are your priorities for the next three years?
As a divisional councillor and the portfolio holder for finance, human resources and information technology there are a range of priorities. Firstly with finance my priority is to keep downward pressure on rates. To encourage people to come to, invest in, and stay in the South Burnett we have to deliver good services and keep rates affordable. We don't have a fast growing population so we need to continuously look for ways to be more effective and efficient with the limited resources we have. Council needs to scrutinise every expense and balance borrowings with the increased future repayment costs. I always remember that we are dealing with ratepayers money, not council's so we need to be careful spending 'someone else's money'.
For the HR portfolio the priority is to keep the workforce safe and well trained so they are able to respond to the needs of ratepayers effectively and work as one team towards the common goal of benefiting the South Burnett. I'm delighted Council was able to source funding to invest in ten new trainees and give these young people such a great start in their careers. The priority for IT is to utilise the available and affordable technology to best support the workforce to perform as efficiently as possible.
As the division six councillor my priority is to ensure equity across the region and ensure each area and community is getting a fair go and none of the smaller communities are being left behind.
What have been the biggest surprises of the past twelve months?
I'm surprised and delighted by the new rail trail by how many groups and individuals have embraced this new asset. The park runners, the Mountain Bike group and many tourists are enjoying it and I can't wait for it to be finished and the opportunities it presents developed more fully. I'm confident this will bring much needed tourist dollars to the region and be a facility the community can enjoy to improve their health.
We have an amazing community and I'm often surprised and thrilled by the efforts of many people who do so much in every area of the South Burnett. The annual Australia Day awards highlight just some of these achievements. The South Burnett is very resilient; it bounces back after difficult times. It's great to see full dams and green fields after what has been a hot and dry summer. I'm sure the next three years will have its share of surprises good and bad and I'm confident the council will work hard to exploit or minimise these to benefit our great South Burnett and its people.