Burnett: relief for small business on infrastructure charges

BEFORE asking voters to choose him when they went into the polling booth, Matt Burnett released a mandate; five promises that he would deliver on key issues for the Gladstone region.

Now he's revealed how, and when, he plans to do that.

To ease the cost for ratepayers by reducing operating and capital expenditure

Rates increases are not something Matt Burnett wants to see in August. He says one of his first points of business will be to discuss the possibility of a "rates freeze" with council's chief financial officer.

People are overwhelmingly telling me that rates are hurting.

What I want is to send the rates notices out early to give people more time to pay them, exactly the same as the last notice. I know a lot of people want to see decreases and we won't be able to issue notices until we go through the budget so that will be something I will get to work on straight away."

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To work closely with the region's primary producers to support growth and sustainability

This promise is all about roads. The first step will be to ensure any council-owned roads are maintained to a standard that farmers have the capacity to bring B-Double trucks into their properties to increase their ability to transport goods in and out.

"For example we have roads leading into cattle properties that need to be upgraded. When I was growing up this area was covered in dairy farms. Now there is only one left in the Boyne Valley and want to make sure it survives. We will sit down and talk with our residents in rural communities. I want to make sure they don't feel as though their council doesn't love them."

To encourage and promote new and existing business development

This is the one all small business owners have been waiting for; Matt Burnett says "Gladstone is open for business" and those who have been slugged with infrastructure charges, such as personal trainer Brett Newman charged $26,000, won't be asked to pay.

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To increase financial in-kind support for the hard working volunteers

Abolishing the "toilet tax", or sewerage connection charges, for sporting clubs is an example of where Matt Burnett wants to lead the council. He said ensuring the Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre is booked out to capacity is another.

To ensure the Gladstone region receives its fair share of state and federal funding

It's not just about being so persistent and annoying that MPs and Ministers hand over the money just to make a mayor be quiet, Mr Burnett says. It's about explaining why the project is so important to the community.

"With all the taxes the state and federal governments take from the Gladstone region, it's time to give a little back."

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