Council claws back approval of ratepayers: survey

REGIONAL voters are increasingly satisfied with councils, including Gladstone, but more than half of ratepayers do not believe they are getting value for money on the rates they pay.

APN Newsdesk can exclusively reveal a survey commissioned by Local Government Association of Queensland found 56% of voters in provincial councils such as Gladstone believe they are not getting what they pay for.

Despite this dismal view, overall satisfaction with regional councils is approaching its highest levels since the study, completed every two years, began in 1997.

In 2005 and 2007, before amalgamation, more than 74% of voters were satisfied with regional council.

After dropping to around 60% in 2009, a year after amalgamation, voter satisfaction in regional councils has risen 11%.

The 2015 Community Satisfaction Tracking Survey, to be released today, found in four years this has increased to a close to 71% overall performance rating.

Gladstone mayor Gail Sellers said she did not believe Gladstone ratepayers were upset with their rates.

"We are not seeing a growing dissatisfaction among ratepayers and it's quite the opposite with feedback during our CouncillorConnect visits quite positive," she said.

"Council does not invest in voter surveys but the feedback councillors are receiving when visiting groups and individuals across the region suggest a general satisfaction from residents that council is serving them well.

"We have had to make some tough decisions as to service levels in recent times due to continual funding cutbacks from other tiers of government and residents have generally expressed support for council's commitment to responsible financial management."

LGAQ president Margaret de Wit said amalgamated councils had worked hard to claw back public approval.

"To record such improvement at a time when it has never been a more difficult environment for local government to operate in deserves a pat on the back for our councils," she said.

"Councils have worked hard to achieve more with less and this is evidenced in these results.

"The rural and remote councils are working hard to deliver under the most dire circumstances of drought which has been devastating their communities for years in many cases."

The survey canvassed the views of 280 respondents from regional council areas and 700 people across Queensland in a survey that is done every two years.

Age before youth:

UNDER 40 and hoping to go into council? You might want to hold off.

For nearly two thirds of regional Queenslanders, their top priority in evaluating a councillor is making sure they are over 40 years old.

Along with age, being a good communicator, strong leader, forward-looking and having previous council experience were the top things Queenslanders looked for in a councillor.

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