Sunday, May 26, 2024

LGAQ: Budget misses key council marks

The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) has welcomed funding for critical water and wastewater infrastructure, disaster recovery, the SES and greater certainty over advance payments to councils to offset the cost of the waste levy on household bills in today’s State Budget. 

But LGAQ President and Sunshine Coast Council Mayor, Mark Jamieson said the Association was disappointed the State had yet to meet the most critical budget requests put forward on behalf of Queensland councils, including the restoration of Works for Queensland funding to $100 million a year. 

He said that without increased funding, the program is set to drop to $70 million in 2022/23 and then to $30 million in 2023/24. 

Councils were also seeking an increase to the Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme (TIDS), as well as the return of funding to councils for project planning as was provided under the former Maturing the Infrastructure Pipeline Program. 

“Unfortunately, the extra funding our 65 regional, rural, remote and First Nations Queensland councils are seeking is not included in the announcements made by the Palaszczuk Government today,” Mayor Jamieson said. 

“We will continue to campaign for this funding to be restored and we look forward to continuing the conversation with the State in coming months. 

“This program is critical to the liveability of Queensland’s communities, with the latest Queensland Audit Office report showing 60 per cent of the state’s councils remain at medium or high risk of becoming financially unsustainable. 

“This program was first announced in 2016 and since that time has funded thousands of projects across the state and supported tens of thousands of jobs. 

“Now is the time to build on the maturity of the program, and we look forward to working with the Government to ensure it continues to have the critical economic and social impact for local communities across this state.” 

Mayor Jamieson said the LGAQ would continue to pursue an increase to the TIDS program and the SEQ Community Stimulus Program, as well as the re-establishment of a fund dedicated to helping councils plan for future projects, among other priorities not committed to in today’s State Budget. 

The Association welcomed an extra $20 million in funding for the SES, and the continued rollout of funding for water and wastewater projects as part of the $70 million, three-year Building Our Regions commitment announced by the Government last year. 

It also praised further certainty around the advance waste levy payments to offset the cost of the waste levy on household bills through the upfront payment of four years’ worth of payments to impacted councils, and also the ability for councils to access $291 million set aside for recycling initiatives. 

“We now look forward to hearing more from the State regarding the announcement of $672.4 million in upfront advance waste levy payments and what it means for councils and local communities,” Mayor Jamieson said. 

“It is critical, funding is also dedicated to building essential infrastructure needed to ensure households have the options they need to divert more waste from landfill.” 

Mayor Jamieson said the LGAQ had been having productive discussions with the State regarding the Works for Queensland program and those discussions would continue, as would the LGAQ’s #Backto100M campaign. 

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