Councillors currently in budget discussions
In 2014 the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) studied people’s perceptions and knowledge and found the view of local government being confined to roads, rates and rubbish was long gone. They found that media coverage of local councils often focused on perceived grievances residents have with their local representatives, and their dislike of paying rates. They also found that around 75% of Australians surveyed think local government is best able to make decisions about their local area, in comparison to 26% for state government and an uncomfortable 2% for the federal government. One of the strongest messages evidenced in the study was that residents didn’t just want the rubbish collected and a local pool – they wanted a sense of community, with an expectation that council provides this.
So why am I writing about all of this you may well be wondering? Well, because Councillors are currently in budget discussions and have been tasked by you with the immense responsibility (and occasional burden) of allocating your money, (approximately 35% of our total budget), and state and federal money (approximately 65%), across the region for the next 12 months.
We strive to do this with equity and fairness across our 6 major towns and surrounds. In addition to planning for the future, we need to consider all types of community members, those who use our roads for their livelihood and those who don’t own a car, yet use our library every day. We have to do this knowing we have roads that span almost from Brisbane to Perth, yet all the while knowing we will hear complaints if sections of road are not great. We think about our children and how we can create communities where the young can play safely and the older children are encouraged to stay. We think about our aging population and how best we can support them to keep being active and happy members of community. And of course there’s the rubbish, water, and waste which we have to make sure is completely funded and under control. And whilst considering all this and more, we have to abide by our legislation in which we must run a sustainable financial model.
Almost two years ago you voted 7 people to make the best decisions possible on your behalf and I think you should know that we all take that responsibility and trust extremely seriously. We know we don’t always get it right, but you should know, we try to. Please wish us well in the next few months of budget deliberations.