How Southern Downs rates compare with rest of Qld

SOUTHERN Downs Regional Council's general rates and charges have fared well in a comparison of 13 local governments in Queensland.

CEO David Keenan said douncil had reviewed the 2014/15 rates and charges under the Queensland Government's Comparative Information Return.

"All local governments are required to complete the State Government's annual comparative information return. In terms of the 2014/15 rates and charges comparison, Southern Downs' average general net rate payable per annum is ranked seventh, which is bang in the middle of the 13 category three councils.

"However, if you consider the complete package of rates and charges, Southern Downs is one of better performing councils, with the third lowest average net rates and charges and the third lowest sewerage charge compared with the other category three councils.

"Ratepayers concerned about the escalating cost of rates and charges often compare Southern Downs with councils such as Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

"However, comparisons against these sorts of councils really reflect an 'apples versus oranges' scenario, because there are significant differences across a range of factors including, but not limited to, population, geographical area, and services provided.

"That's why it's important to compare councils that have been included in the same category by the Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal.

"Councils are included in a particular category having regard to the size, geographical and environmental terrain of each local government area; the population, including the area's demographics, the spread of population serviced by the local government and the extent of the services the local government provides," said Mr Keenan.

Southern Downs Regional Council is one of 13 Category 3 councils, including:

  • Cassowary Coast Regional Council
  • Central Highlands Regional Council
  • Gympie Regional Council
  • Isaac Regional Council
  • Livingstone Shire Council
  • Lockyer Valley Regional Council
  • Noosa Shire Council
  • Scenic Rim Regional Council
  • South Burnett Regional Council
  • Southern Downs Regional Council
  • Tablelands Regional Council
  • Western Downs Regional Council
  • Whitsunday Regional Council

"This favourable comparative result demonstrates that, despite much public commentary that rates and charges in our region are higher than many other regions, rates and charges in the Southern Downs are actually quite low when compared with like councils.

"Council does understand the community's concerns about the level of rates and charges, and the financial pressures from increasing costs of living. However it's also important for the community to understand that Council faces these same pressures, and is operating in a constrained environment.

"The freezing of the Federal Assistance Grants and the reduction in State Government grants and subsidies that relate to operational activities means that council needs to continually identify revenue streams to support staff and the delivery of high standards of service to both the urban and rural communities.

"This has meant that council has had to re-evaluate the true cost of delivering these high quality services. In determining these costs, council has benchmarked the services it delivers against other similar Local Government authorities.

"Council will continue to review the services it delivers to the community to identify further areas for savings and efficiencies," said Mr Keenan.