COUNCIL CALLS FOR A FAIRER SHARE OF THE FUNDING PIE
Equal access to grant funding to better support smaller regional councils is among issues that feature in Scenic Rim’s Ten Point Advocacy Plan in the lead-up to the 2020 Queensland state election in October.
A review of the distribution of the Queensland Government's Financial Assistance Grants, as well as a review of tied and untied grants programs to reduce the infrastructure burden on smaller regional councils such as Scenic Rim is overdue. Council is calling on political parties and local candidates to support such a review.
Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen said each of the 10 priorities related to issues impacting Scenic Rim residents and businesses and the region’s future growth and economic prosperity.
“A review of the distribution of Financial Assistance Grants is needed to ensure the viability of smaller councils, like ours, across Queensland,” he said.
“The current funding formula has changed little since 2011 and, for the 2020-21 financial year, Scenic Rim Regional Council received the second lowest allocation of all Category 3 councils, despite having the third highest population.”
As a local government area close to major urban centres such as Brisbane, Logan, the Gold Coast and Ipswich, Scenic Rim is under increasing pressure to meet the service level expectations of urban, rather than rural, precincts.
Compounding the issue is Scenic Rim’s large geographical footprint and its dispersed towns and villages, each with significant populations, with particular infrastructure needs.
“While other regional councils may have only one swimming pool and one library, we have four of each,” Cr Christensen said.
“It’s these facilities that make our region so liveable, however we are a council with limited revenue, which relies heavily on rates and charges, and we are limited in our ability to increase that revenue.
“Through the SEQ Regional Plan, the Queensland Government has placed significant expectations on the Scenic Rim that limit growth opportunities, which might otherwise broaden our revenue base.
"It also preserves critical environmental and rural assets, which makes us an attractive place to live, however also benefits communities beyond our region.”
Local governments raise just three per cent of taxes, yet are required to manage 38 per cent of all public infrastructure and 75 per cent of all roads.
Cr Christensen said Scenic Rim was also impacted by the uncertainty surrounding tied and untied grant programs, including funding programs aimed at creating and supporting local jobs.
“Grants programs are essential for delivering community infrastructure, improving amenity and safety, and supporting growth in regional employment,” he said.
“While Council greatly appreciates the availability of tied grants programs that mostly support capital improvements or developments, the uncertainty of these arrangements leads to inefficiency in planning and difficulty in strategic program sequencing for such works.
“Aside from the COVID-19 Works for Queensland funding, for which we are very grateful, Scenic Rim Regional Council has not previously been eligible for Works for Queensland funding because we are in South East Queensland, even though 11 of the other 14 Category 3 Councils across Queensland are eligible for this additional funding.”
The Ten Point Plan is available on Council's website Council's website www.scenicrim.qld.gov.au/our-council/administration/advocacy