The Hive: New way for Gladstone ratepayers to have their say
IT WILL be easier for residents to have their say on services, projects and upgrades ahead of the 2020-21 Gladstone Regional Council Budget.
The council will launch a new forum on its website called The Hive in late September, which will give residents the opportunity to have their say on a range of issues.
The news comes amid thousands of ratepayers signing a petition calling for the council to cut back on spending to reduce rate rises.
General manager of governance, finance and risk Mark Holmes said the cost of service delivery was the biggest consideration when forming the budget and calculating rates.
"The way to decrease costs is to decrease services," Mr Holmes said.
"That's not a palatable thing to do for the community."
Mr Holmes said The Hive would be an important tool ahead of next year's budget because it would give residents an opportunity to have their say on the services they want, from how often a road should be resurfaced to how much should be spent on community assets.
The Hive is modelled off similar forum's used by other Queensland councils to give residents an opportunity to have their say on what rates are spent on.
Another function the Hive is expected to have is to "design a playground", where residents are shown the equipment and costs involved.
The 2019-20 Budget and Operational Plan included an average rates rise of 2.39 per cent across all costs and services.
Mr Holmes said with rates being "the most public form of taxation" it would always create discussion among residents.
"Rates is the most public form of taxation but you do get a lot of services from them," he said.
"You get to drive home, turn on the tap, flush the toilet, get the bin collected and go to the park.
"The visibility of rates as an annual or half-year bill has a confronting nature to it, and rightfully so it creates good conversations.
"I think it's great the community is interested in it and I think we need to garner that so we can have these service level discussions."
Mr Holmes said in the past 12 months spending had been consolidated and changes implemented during the council's restructure.
During the restructure 113 people were made redundant, 33 vacancies were not filled and 127 new positions were created.
"One of the major parts of doing our restructure was to enable our business to have better capacity and capability to manage our assets," Mr Holmes said.
"We look at initiatives each and every day. We look at our fleet, we look at every contract that comes up."