Rates, roads and rubbish: Michelle Wagner

Michelle Wagner, mayoral candidate 2016.
Michelle Wagner, mayoral candidate 2016. Michelle Wagner

The answers have been published in the paper over the past few weeks, but below are Michelle Wagner's un-edited answers.

What do you think about the current state of the following council issues/services;

Rates

I am a ratepayer too and am not keen to continue paying what I am paying.

Since 2012, my own general rates have risen 26.5 per cent, which is more than three times that of inflation for the corresponding period.

Additionally, my water access charge has risen 39.2 per cent.

There are many others whose bills have risen significantly more and that is very concerning.

I know that it will be tough to peg back future increases but it can be done if the whole community is willing to enable Council to focus on core operations and services.

The only way to realistically peg back rates is to look at internal efficiencies and cull services and spending.

Again, unfortunately, we are living in a time when people's expectations are higher than ever before so unless the majority of residents are willing to forgo some of the services and infrastructure Council provides, then pegging back rates is not achievable.

As I have worked internally, I am aware where some savings may be had but the type of savings needed to impact on rates are significant and are not going to attract favour of all residents.

My proposal is that we involve staff in this process to find the easy savings; then review all costs to Council to determine further savings; and then determine which projects or services are not core business, document these and ask for community input as to the ones they believe can cease or be put on hold.

This isn't an easy feat, especially when some savings might be identified in smaller communities who do not have the population to sway a decision.

Thus, it is imperative that we put safeguards in place and ensure the Councillor group serve as moderators and the final decision-makers.

I see this as a whole-of-community task. Council has the highest value assets in regional Queensland ($2 billion) but the cost to maintain these are equally as high.

The practice of putting in arguably the best infrastructure and the corresponding price tag has to end.

This is not to say that we put in inferior infrastructure that needs more maintenance. It simply means we get good quality that represents long-term 'bang for buck'.

Rubbish

Hi Helen, this question is far too broad to discuss here.

Do you have a specific question in relation to waste management, such as landfill operations or costs, waste transfer stations, waste collection, recycling, community education, litter or illegal dumping.

My apologies but the question is too broad to answer appropriately with the space given, without some specifics.

Roads

There is always going to be more demand for road repairs, maintenance and construction than a Council's budget can provide.

That's a reality of every Council in Australia and not just specifically the Gladstone Region. GRC has spent quite a lot of effort to get its road hierarchy and program of road works on track, but I am aware there are still sections of roads that I believe need some urgent attention.

Council has 960km of sealed and 1640km of unsealed roads and some of these need reconstructing.

Additionally, the advent of four major flood events in the past six years has cost tens of millions of dollars of damage to the road network and affected Council's ability to keep up with general road maintenance and construction demands.

Council's Operational budget on road related infrastructure totals about $16 million per annum, while road infrastructure related capital expenditure totals about $21 million.

Council conducts road asset inspections continuously over the entire road network to identify defects and condition.

Overall, Council is doing a reasonable job with roads under the circumstances and residents with concerns can use the Report An Issue app on Council's website or phone Council.

Can you describe the role of a councillor?

The role of each Councillor is to represent the interests of the local government area, including making decisions presented by officers of Council at ordinary Council meetings.



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