Compensation for amalgamated councils ‘disappointing’: LGAQ

By Angela Dorizas

The Queensland Government's commitment to compensate six councils for amalgamation costs has been described as “disappointing” by the state's local government association.

Queensland Local Government Minister Desley Boyle has announced a funding boost of $18.3 million for six amalgamated councils following an independent review of amalgamation costs.

The Queensland Treasury Corporation (QTC) assessment found that financial sustainability remained a issue of concern for two of the 25 councils examined.

“The report identifies that financial sustainability remains a significant issue for North Burnett and South Burnett regional councils,” Ms Boyle said.

The QTC report also identified that Southern Downs, Towoomba and Whitsunday regional councils had access to adequate liquidity, but had weak forecast operating positions.

“The QTC has concluded that these deficits are predominately structural in nature and not a result of amalgamation,” Ms Boyle said.

“In line with the QTC recommendation, Southern Downs will receive funding. However, in relation to Toowoomba and Whitsunday regional councils, recent event shave mean both of these local governments have already received a considerable financial boost.”

The State Government has already committed $112 million to Toowoomba for its pipeline project and Whitsunday has received a commitment of $15.6 million for sewage treatment plant upgrades and $7 million for an airport upgrade.

Ms Boyle said Scenic Rim, Isaac and Torres Strait regional councils would also receive funding towards amalgamation costs.

“The QTC individual reports identified financial liquidity and sustainability issues for both Scenic Rim and Isaac Regional Councils,” she said.

“A preliminary assessment of sustainability issues for Torres Strait Island regional council recommends funding. Accordingly, they too will receive government assistance.”

Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) president Paul Bell described the compensation for amalgamated councils as “disappointing”.

He said according to LGAQ estimates, councils require up to $200 million in compensation for amalgamation costs.

“The $18.6 million allocated to just six councils is a mere fraction of this," Cr Bell said.

“It is also disappointing the government has taken so long to come to this decision.”

Cr Bell said councils that missed out on State Government compensation should be informed as to why they were excluded.

“I know some councils who missed out will want to know why,” he said.
“Councils and their communities will pass judgement on what is fair and reasonable as they battle ongoing cost constraints.”

Councils to receive funding

  • North Burnett Regional Council – $348, 524
  • South Burnett Regional Council – $1.127 million
  • Scenic Rim Regional Council – $2.79 million
  • Southern Downs Regional Council – $2.38 million
  • Isaac Regional Council – $4.06 million
  • Torres Strait Regional Council – $7.58 million

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