Reader letter: Council newsletter claims questioned

Letter to the editor from John Blake, West Gladstone

THE other day I went to the post office and had to jump over a heap of piled-up "junk mail" - most of which appeared to be council's latest glossy publication, Council Connection.

Each publication costs 50 cents, not to mention distribution costs. The council claims home delivery is "free".

This raises another question: has Australia Post's recent decision to reduce services and up cost of a letter to $1 been a consequence of "free" deliveries for the council?

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Ratepayers could save $1 for every two less of these publications.

But couldn't it all be done via the council's IT "net" section for considerably less, and more importantly - no waste?

Getting back to the publication. Did you see at P3 where the council has painted an impressive picture of how it the Gladstone Region Council is performing compared with other regions?

I just wish to raise a few little points.

First, see where the council claims a "minimum rate of $886 - and $181 below the average", who do you know in your street that is only paying $886 annually for rates?

Brisbane, Cairns and the Gold Coast have got much lower minimum rate numbers, so the MGR is of ornamental value only.

It is not until you add on other charges, and then factor in the all-important ingredient of "land valuations" that it has any relevance.

Research will show you Gladstone region is on top when it comes to land values.

And of course, there's the factor of on-going interest on debt.

When doing a comparison with other districts on final costs of annual rates payable, you would have to think that most other regional councils in our area are at a distinct financial disadvantage by not having the likes of a Gladstone harbour board/authority in their neck of the woods.

Add to this list services performed over the years by QAL, power house and others, and even further add recent financial spin-off attributed to the Curtis Island gas development.

With all this goodwill why isn't this windfall reflected by Gladstone region having the state's lowest rate charges?

Gladstone Regional Council has nine elected councillors, but because there is no divisional system of representation, equity for all ratepayers will always remain an issue, and under the present set-up, numbers are not really justified.

No matter where you look we seem to be over-represented, over governed and over-charged for the privilege.

Finally, is there an old retired accountant out there somewhere, with half-an-hour to spare, who can brush through all the gravy and just give us a fair assessment of the financial bones supporting the Gladstone Regional Council and Gladstone Airport - from a ratepayer's perspective?

What about a Q&A session and a cuppa?



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