Fraser Coast Regional Council - Cr. Rolf Light.
Fraser Coast Regional Council - Cr. Rolf Light.

Rates comparisons need to look at population: Light

FRASER Coast rates are not solely the result of focus on decreasing debt, councillor Rolf Light says.

In 2012 Fraser Coast Regional Council was $174.5 million in the red.

The debt is now $85.5 million, which has been toted as a feat no other level of government could match, Cr Light said.

"I will challenge any other state or federal government that could have that track record: small net increase in rates and a considerable spend on infrastructure all while reducing debt." he said.

Cr Light said it was important to consider the population of ratepayers before comparing rates with other regions.

"People say rates are cheaper in the Gold Coast and Sydney. Yes, because look at the population of ratepayers," he said.

"One could debate we have high rates, not highest in the state but we recognise they are a large burden on everyone as it is one of the household's highest expenses. Phone and power bills are monthly but when you get it in one big hit looks more than it is, just like rates.

"You have to look at the quantum of ratepayers versus the services and demands we have.

"We have 51,000 ratepayers and 20 satellite communities, two CBDs, 100km of coastline and the duplications of things like libraries etc."

Cr Light said the council's dramatic reduction in debt reduced the burden on ratepayers as well as cut the amount paid in interest.

"In the last four budgets, we have tried to lessen rate burden on ratepayers by not increasing rates or increasing only slightly," he said.

"Rates always need to be reviewed. It would be silly to think we have everything perfect and I think it shows transparency to do this."

Cr Loft said funding help from other sections of government also helped reduce the burden as well as council cash reserves.

"(The) council had large cash reserves over a number of years and used these to fund major projects and even doing that can reduce rate burden and pay down debt," he said.

Chief executive officer Ken Diehm said the council was "living within our means and finding efficiencies and cost savings within our operations to minimise the financial burden on residents".