Each cut counts in rates wrestle

EVERY $347,000 cut from the Southern Downs Regional Council's budget will reduce the average rates rise – looming at 9.6 per cent – by one per cent, Cr Ross Bartley told those who attended Wednesday night's rates meeting at the Town Hall.

To cut the budget, you must cut services, he said.

“Tell us where you want to cut services,” he challenged those assembled.

Council's overall budget revenue is close to $60 million.

Twenty two million dollars comes from general rates, $8 million from water rates, $5.3 million from sewerage, $3.2 million from waste, $6.2 million from general fees and charges and $5.7 million from the Federal Government.

Council estimates State Government devolution of services to local government costs it $3 million a year.

Employees cost ratepayers $26,340,572 and with around 400 staff, this equates to an average wage of $65,850.

Parks and gardens cost council $691,138 to maintain and the library makes close to a $2 million loss annually.

CEO Rod Ferguson says the local authority is very aware of employee numbers, recruiting only when necessary and working on performance indicators to ensure staff operate to maximum efficiency.

“Council currently has strong performance measures in place monitored against the Operational Plan, the Budget and the individual performance of staff,” he said.

A parks plan is being prepared to assess which green spaces council should maintain and council has a “community service obligation” to provide a library.

So can we shave $347,000, or more, from the budget?

With rates bills due in mid-August, the Daily News has arranged a meeting today with some of the community's best business brains to trawl through the budget documents and find where these successful business and financial experts would trim the fat as though the Southern Downs Regional Council was their own business.

Check out tomorrow's Daily News for the results of the exercise and email your suggestions for service cuts to edit@warwickdailynews.com.au.

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