Road works are in full swing along Kent St in Maryborough.
Road works are in full swing along Kent St in Maryborough.

‘No rate spend divide’: Council explains cash spend

FOOTPATHS and roadworks may not appear as appealing as new sports grounds and waterslides but that doesn't mean any one city receives favouritism when it comes to spending rates cash.

This is according to Councillor Rolf Light who worked closely on recent Fraser Coast Regional Council budgets and said many residents didn't realise a large portion of rates was spent in Maryborough.

"The fact is Hervey Bay is a growth corridor and is going to expand, whereas Maryborough is a mature area which means a lot of spend is unseen, particularly road upgrades and renewing existing infrastructure," he said.

"The amalgamation of councils is the best thing that has happened because now we have the capacity of a greater rates base to support parts of the region.

"Look at the Burrum Heads car park and boat ramp. Maryborough residents might subsidise that, but Burrum Heads residents subsidise something new in Maryborough. There is a lot of cross-supporting projects.

"I think the message we need to get across is, we look at the region as a whole. We look at priorities that need to be done, for example it might take millions of dollars to fix a bridge, now only 200 cars might use it, but still needs to be done at some point."

CEO Ken Diehm said council did not keep separate sets of accounts for Maryborough and Hervey Bay.

"To do that would be an onerous task for staff for little benefit," he said. "The council allocates its funds based on need, service standards and condition of infrastructure not on the location.

"While we are spending a considerable amount of money in Maryborough, this is considered appropriate given the age of the assets and infrastructure.

"Council also works closely with the Federal and State Governments and we thank them for their continued support as many of the projects council undertakes would not have been possible - or would not have happened as quickly - without their financial commitments."

Cr Light said council also saved money since amalgamation by cutting out duplication.

"Now, we all have the same uniforms, IT systems," he said.

"The other thing is buying power, we can buy at more competitive rates and buy at greater quantity.

"It had to happen and has been a huge benefit for the region, I appreciate some people have a different view to that, but I challenge them if it goes back to what it was, I don't believe we would have the infrastructure, projects and debt reduction we have today.

"People say 'We used to get more'.

"I disagree, I think they are getting more now because of the quantity of the funding throughout the whole region, as it was before it was not sustainable in the future, it's just normal business principles."