Rural brigades funding will be budgetary item

By REN LANZONnewsroom@gladstoneobserver.com.au

"THIS will work ? this will be good,'' was the comment made yesterday about Calliope Shire Council's recommendation for funding to Rural Fire Brigades within the shire.

Calliope Rural Fire Brigade'sKeith Hill attended yesterday's council meeting expecting council to drop its fire levy and leave rural brigades to their own devices as to how they funded their operations.

The brigade had approached council to be included in the special charge levied by council which allowed brigades to upgrade outdated equipment.

Instead it appeared as if council would drop the levy altogether.

Mr Hill was prepared to tell council that if it did that, the brigade volunteers would "hand in the keys (to their fire trucks)'' and disband the brigades.

However, council said there was never any intention to drop funding for the brigades.

Instead it was decided council would provide funding through it usual budget ? similar to the way it funds libraries, parks and gardens, and weed control.

A line item of $43,000 (upgraded to $50,000 at the meeting) was suggested for the area's 19 brigades, with funding based on the brigades' audited statements, a three year activity/budget plan and inventory of assets.

Council's decision was based on advice by its lawyers that, under current special levies arrangements, legal problems could arise.

Council has estimated there would need to be a 0.60 per cent increase in rates to cover the $20 per rural assessment contribution.

Council is expected to raise the matter at this year's meeting of the local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) because other councils are likely to come under similar legal obligations.



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