Feds to blame for rates woes: Mayor
DEPARTING Mayor Wayne Kratzmann knows there is anger in the electorate but he thinks the council is copping the blame for Federal Government mistakes.
With roads, rates and the hugely unpopular road levy dominating the election, Cr Kratzmann said all of these issues were brought on by cutbacks in grants to the council.
"We are getting substantially less (from the government) than prior to amalgamation in 2008," Cr Kratzmann said.
"And there is nothing you can do about it; the Federal Government just ignores us," the mayor said
One of the biggest issues he had to deal with during the past four years was the cuts in the Financial Assistance Grants to the council.
The grants, which are paid by the Federal Government to councils around Australia, have been subject to cuts as a way to deal with government debt.
The numbers speak for themselves; in 2010 the South Burnett Council received $8.2million from the grant, in this financial year it has gone down to $6.9million.
And it is only getting worse.
One of the budget saving measures of the former Abbott Government was to freeze the CPI increases for three years, meaning the grants will go down in value as inflation creeps up.
"We would have been better off if they were frozen in 2012 and not 2015 as we were getting more back then," he said.
He described the cuts as a clever move by the Federal Government, as it gets to keep the money from the cuts and councils across Australia cop the blame from their ratepayers.
"It's really knocked us around, we've been on the bad end of it," he said.
He blamed the cuts in the Financial Assistance Grants for the introduction of the road levy in 2013, which is charged at $200 for every rateable property.
"We charge the least we possibly can so we can keep our head above water," he said.
"I've had councillors in tears as we've been doing the budget."
Whoever is elected on March 19, he predicted the problems with Financial Assistance Grants would be a major problem they would have to grapple with.
"The only reason we have those fees is because we don't get the money from anywhere else," he said.
What we got
Financial Assistance Grants by year
- 2010/2011: $8,228,322
- 2011/2012: $8,260,893
- 2012/2013: $7,370,187
- 2013/2014: $7,177,839
- 2014/2015: $7,103,699
- 2015/2016: $7,103,699
Without cuts and indexation freeze, the council would have received $9,163,714 this financial year, a $2million difference.