LAST week we reminded Gympie region councillors, along with ourselves and our readers, what our representatives told us before we voted them in just over a year ago.
Now we publish what they say now about the ideals and values they expressed then.
Of 30 eager candidates who faced voters at the last Gympie Regional Council poll, there were only places for nine in the chamber (eight divisional councillors and the mayor).
They were answering questions which seemed at the time to sum up what people were asking us and which we had heard raised from the floor at candidates' forums.
The questions which we think retain the most continuing importance are:
1. What do you rate as the three top priorities for the current Gympie Regional Council?
2. What facilities and services does the Gympie region need more of?
3. What is your position on rates?
Their earlier answers told us what kind of candidates they were and what they stood for. One year on, their comments tell us how they think they and the council are going in achieving their objectives.
We start with the response of Gympie region Mayor Mick Curran...
Q1. Council has and will continue to deliver the required infrastructure necessary to not only add to the liveability of our residents but to also enhance the experience of visitors coming to our region. The Aquatic Recreation Centre is now completed and open for community use. Council has received overwhelming support for this project, which was delivered under budget. Funding has been secured for the Mary Valley Rattler after nearly four years. The rattler operations are expected to be fully operational in December of this year. The' Our towns' projects continue with completion of town enhancements in both Gunalda and Amamoor. Tin Can Bay, Cooloola Cove and Goomeri projects will commence in the near future. These complement projects such as new play grounds in Lower Wonga, Curra and Rainbow Beach as well as improvements to existing parks and playgrounds right across the region. The Curra Community Hall planning has been completed, approved by the community through an extensive community consultation process and will commence construction this year. Council was able to secure nearly $500 000 from the State Government for the completion of this $600 000 project. Planning for the Tin Can Bay Jetty and Gympie Library projects continue.
Good Governance. All strategies previously introduced remain.
Q2 Statistically, this region's population of residents over 65 years is approximately 20% compared to the State average of 12%. As part of the newly adopted GRC Corporate Plan council has recognised that we need to place emphasis on an 'ageing' strategy. We continue to work with proponents wanting to construct aged care facilities in our region. We will continue to advocate for improved health services and will support both 'in kind' and financially organisations that improve the life styles of our aged residents. Likewise, council has endorsed strategies to improve sporting facilities right across the region and has secured extra State Government funding for the arts through the RADF program.
Q3. Rates. I continue to strongly believe rate increases must be kept in check. In my first year in this position I was very proud that council adopted a budget of 0.17% on average, the lowest rate rise in council history. This year's budget saw a modest rate rise of 2.1% on average, the second lowest in council history. The budget for 2017/18 is currently being formulated and I am hopeful that council will support a budget that will deliver on my previous commitment. Importantly there have been no new borrowings over the last three financial years, the early payment discount remains at 10%, the surcharge relating to card payments has been removed and the rate arrear levels are decreasing. Most importantly, the current average level of rates payed by our residents is below the average amount payable of all category three councils in Queensland.
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