Council opening its doors for feedback on future budgets

RATEPAYERS can expect greater transparency when the Southern Downs Regional Council hands down its next budget, with the organisation set to open up its doors and invite public feedback.

Councillors will vote on a new budget process at a meeting of the council on Wednesday, aimed at increasing transparency and including the public in decision making.

While traditionally the budget is adopted behind closed doors - the proposed process would see the budget adopted in an open session of the council.

The proposed changes have been met with support from councillors, including Cr Jamie Mackenzie - a vocal critic of the 2015/16 Budget.

"Good planning is based on good information - so I am all for a budget preparation that involves meaningful public consultation and a more transparent process," he said.

"It is amazing that the budget this year was presented behind closed doors and once again we were denied the opportunity to debate it publicly and transparently in accordance with the Local Government Act.

"Nothing stops us from consulting with the public.

"In fact, a period of public consultations in my view complies with the principles in the Local Government Act."

Should the 2015/16 Southern Downs Regional Council budget have been open for public feedback before it was adopted?

This poll ended on 21 September 2015.

Current Results

Yes

90%

No

10%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

As part of the changes, draft budget papers will be made public for 28 days, with ratepayers able to view and give feedback on the proposed budget.

Information sessions will also be held across the region, giving senior staff the chance to explain the budget to concerned residents.

While the changes allow for budget discussions to begin as early as January, they are likely to be hampered by the elections in March.

The council will meet at the Stanthorpe council chambers at 9am on Wednesday.

The Daily News could not get in touch with Mayor Peter Blundell to discuss the changes yesterday.

Budget transparency

 28-day public exhibition of draft budget

 Copies of draft budget available at council buildings and online

 Public encouraged to comment and send in submissions

 Public information sessions across the region with senior staff

 Budget adopted in open meeting of the council