Bundy to amalgamate?

PREPARATION has saved Bundaberg Regional Council from struggles other south-east Queensland councils have experienced since amalgamation was brought in almost 18 months ago.

A recent Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) report released on amalgamated councils included Bundaberg Regional Council in its survey of 30 councils that underwent major structural change at the 2008 local government elections.

A major issue councils experienced was to provide an equal spread of services and charges to all residents within the new boundaries, but Mayor Lorraine Pyefinch said the Bundaberg region was one of the better-off, with preparation the key, plus fairness in mind.

“Decisions were made to bring fees and charges into line early last year,” Cr Pyefinch said.

“It was part of our first discussion as a new council.

“We've put in place a plan to bring together rates for like-properties across the district over the next two to three years.”

The survey showed that calculating a fair, reasonable rates system has been one of the hardest tasks for councils, and also draws the most anger from residents.

Cr Pyefinch said councils had a three-year window of opportunity to put such measures into place, and unlike other amalgamated councils, the Bundaberg region has been eased into it.

“We're a bit further ahead than most councils - others haven't even gone down that path yet,” she said.

“I think the public understand the pressure we're under - we have a limited window of opportunity and we want services to work.”

Most mayors surveyed, including Cr Pyefinch, expected the amalgamations to eventually work (although one in five said they were yet to see any benefits, or thought it too early to judge).

“We have seen some efficiencies, like the (already implemented) recycling services to the former Isis Shire, while on the other hand I have to agree that a lot of efficiencies will take some time to appear,” she said.



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