Mayor changes his plans as region adapts to ‘new world’
IN HIS first week of office, Mayor Brett Otto confirmed a number of his original plans for the region had been put on the back burner in light of the current health pandemic.
During his campaign Cr Otto said he wanted to create a waterpark in the South Burnett, similar to Chincilla’s Botanic Parklands, with the help of the state government.
However, the recreational centre along with other ideas would now have to be reviewed as the threat of coronavirus was being felt across the region.
“I put forward a number of matters that I intended to put to council,” Cr Otto said.
“Some of those will have to be reviewed in light of coronavirus.
“I think, importantly, my eagerness to deal with council debt may have to be deferred,” Cr Otto said.
“I would be keen to see council provide financial assistance and social and human support to the community and that may require that we have to dip into the budget to do so as a short-term measure.
“There will be no water park for the short term, unless we can get 100 per cent funding from the government, which is unlikely,” he said.
“I don’t think we are going to, unfortunately, have the money in the next 12 months to look at water parks.”
Despite many councils having stretched budgets, Cr Otto said the Kingaroy Revitalisation Project was still in motion, depending on funding allocation.
“Should we get the funding, I will certainly be supporting the progression of the Kingaroy revitalisation plan,” Cr Otto said.
“I believe it is important for the community.
“Not just for Kingaroy, but also for the region, that we have an appropriate regional centre and I think it has real social benefits.”
Cr Otto said there was also a lot of long-overdue structural work that had to be done underground, which totalled between $6-7 million of the $11 million costs.
In relation to donating $20,000 of his salary per year to local charity groups and to use his own vehicle and telephone, the former accountant said he would still honour these promises.
“With the $20,000 that I pledged to the community, I will roll that out as $2500 per charity over a period of about eight months commencing in July,” he said.
“What I am looking to do is see that it is fairly distributed across different charities throughout the different towns of the South Burnett.
“I will make those donations to charities as a private citizen to those registered charities and if they are registered with the tax office, obviously then I can claim a tax deduction for that through the ATO.
“All those records will be available through the ATO and I am happy to disclose that openly to the community.”
Cr Otto said ensuring the South Burnett had a stronger voice at WBBROC (Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Councils) was a priority for him during this council term.
He would also fight to maintain important community facilities such as local pools and libraries, which were part of the ‘social fabric’ in the region.
As Cr Otto and his team continued with their inductions and briefings this week at the Kingaroy Town Hall, he said moving forward “Team Burnett” would fight for every cent they could get over the coming months as they navigate coronavirus and other council responsibilities.