Who should pay for Mackay school road bills?
RATEPAYERS and parents will be the big winners if Mackay Regional Council is successful in its fight to have the State Government help foot the bill for roads around schools.
The Mackay Regional Council will table the idea at the coming Local Government Association of Queensland conference.
Council representatives from across the state will converge on Gladstone from October 16-18 for the annual conference where this and many other ideas will be debated.
If there is widespread support for the council's idea at the conference, the LGAQ will then advocate for it to be rolled out statewide on behalf of all local governments.
Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said booming populations were putting more stress on roads that service school parking and pick-up and drop-off areas.
Cr Williamson said the MRC wanted the current local-state government cost sharing arrangement to cover new education facilities and existing schools where development has intensified.
Currently, a cost-sharing arrangement covers new schools but there is no financial relief for local ratepayers where existing educational facilities are being extended.
The council has previously lobbied the Department of Education on the issue but its requests for financial help have fallen on deaf ears.
"The current arrangements for cost-sharing, for extensions to cover new facilities and the existing ones needs an overhaul," Cr Williamson said.
"As development intensifies, we are seeking the government to get on board because development and extension of schools cannot occur without transport being a part of the whole planning process.
"The impost for us on the side roads leading to schools, on the safe drop-off zones and the pick-up zones for school students is immense - it's millions of dollars worth of work.
"Local government cannot be expected to keep wearing the cost for State Government infrastructure."
The LGAQ agreed the State Government should revise the cost-sharing process.
"Contributions towards the costs of providing local government infrastructure associated with State Government projects should be the same as those imposed for similar private sector developments," it said in the conference agenda.
NewsRegional asked for the Queensland Government to comment specifically on this issue and others to be raised at the LGAQ conference, but it refused to do so.
Instead a government spokeswoman said: "The Palaszczuk Government has an excellent working relationship with local councils throughout Queensland and their representative body, the LGAQ."
"For instance, we worked with LGAQ to reinstate the Financial Aid program to benefit indigenous councils,"she said.
"I know our ministers meet regularly with the LGAQ and local councils.
"In regards to the motions being put forward at the LGAQ conference in October, we will look at each of the motions passed and work with the councils and community to see great outcomes for all Queenslanders regardless of their location.
"The Government does not want to pre-empt the LGAQ conference and the views of delegates on the motions."
Mayor slams slow delivery of Cyclone Debbie repair funds
A LOCAL leader is irate that significant community property remains damaged months after the Cyclone Debbie recovery efforts began.
Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson blasted the Federal Government's decision to spend $122 million on the marriage equality survey while refusing to match the Queensland Government's $110 million contribution to fixing cyclone damage.
Scenic Rim and Mackay regional councils will use the annual LGAQ conference to urge the Federal and State governments to simplify the Natural Disaster Relief & Recovery Arrangements funding process.
Cr Williamson said his region submitted its application for $15 million twice and was still waiting for an answer as to whether the application would be approved and how much money the council would get.
About $10 million of the requested money will be used to fix cyclone-ravaged beaches before they are further eroded when storm season hits in a few weeks.
"Here we are six months after the cyclone and we are still dealing with the intransigence of a federal and state system, mainly the federals, that cannot enact a recovery program as per a simple set of guidelines for Category D funding," Cr Williamson said.
"We have lost metres and metres of beachfront, they are heavily exposed.
"The damage has been like that for six months and we are just weeks away from the start of the next storm season.
"We have been left high, dry and exposed for the next storm season."
Cr Williamson said the council was starting remedial work worth millions of dollars on three beaches because it could not risk them being further damaged.
He said it was particularly unfair the council was forced to cover the costs, given the Federal Government was paying for the hugely unpopular marriage equality survey.
"It's unbelievable that the Federal Government could find $120 million for a non-binding survey on marriage and they knocked down to $29 million their contribution to Queensland's cyclone.
"It is outrageous - our communities still do not have the recovery work happening that should be happening."
A spokesperson for federal Attorney-General George Brandis told NewsRegional all the Queensland state government's requests for environmental assistance under the NDRRA were approved.
"It is now up to the Queensland state government to administer that funding to its local councils," the spokesperson said.
The Queensland Government refused to address the concerns raised by the council on this issue.
LGAQ CONCEPTS THAT WILL DIRECTLY IMPACT US
- Scenic Rim Council and Mackay Council want the State and Federal governments to have agreed policy and procedures setting out clear processes, responsibilities, timeframes and target criteria for Category D projects under the Natural Disaster Relief & Recovery Arrangements with the aim of increasing the level of funding directed towards infrastructure betterment programs.
- Mackay Council wants the State Government to look at costs associated with requests for additional roads infrastructure to support bus and light vehicle access to parking and pick-up locations around existing schools.
- Isaac Council wants the State Government to regulate so councils can recover costs associated with repairing roads damaged by mining exploration activities.
- Whitsunday Council wants the State Government to amend the Local Government Act 2009 to increase an authorised officer's right of entry to a private property to address potentially life-threatening issues such as overcrowding.
- Whitsunday Council and the Northern Alliance of Councils want the State Government to develop and promote guidelines to restrict tourism and transport operators transporting non-residents into natural disaster affected regions, so as to minimise the risk to human well-being and the impact on damaged utility services and accommodation.