38 positions to go as Livingstone council tightens belt

LIVINGSTONE Mayor Bill Ludwig yesterday made "one of the most challenging moves of my career" when he announced 38 positions were being axed.

Members of the public, councillors and other staff members yesterday filed into the council's Yeppoon chambers to see the new council deliver its $37.3 million budget and proposed staffing structure.

Budget figures showed the council was operating at a $2.87 million deficit over the next six months. But the budget was expected to be in a surplus position of $303,625 within two years.

The 38 positions cuts will cost the Capricorn Coast council more than $2 million in redundancy payouts. It was understood a number of those losses were long- serving Rockhampton Regional Council staff members.

But the "one-off cost burden" meant the council was able to absorb the redundancy cost and keep a general rates increase down to 5% for six months.

This meant residents would cop a total net rates increase of 6.9% after a 4.3% hike in June 2013.

The prospect of another general rates increase in six months time was pending a review when the time came, according to Cr Ludwig.

But he said the council's projections for the five and 10-year forecast indicated a rates hike of more than 5% was unlikely.

"A 5% general rates rise across the board, for six months, will see a $1.3 million increase to the council's rates revenue," Cr Ludwig said.

Cr Ludwig said the rise was a key element for ratepayers, who were led to believe before de-amalgamation they would cop a 16% general rates rise.

However, not everyone was happy. Cr Glenda Mather launched an attack on the council, criticising their lack of empathy for those staff members who were losing their jobs.

"Nobody feels the pain of these staff more than I do because I have been there since 2008, as have you (to Cr Ludwig)," Cr Mather said.

"I'm going against the budget simply because these staff members are an asset."


Crunching the numbers

37.3: The council revealed a $37.3 million expenditure budget over the next six months

38: The number of positions that will be scrapped from the Livingstone Shire Council

2.87: The operational deficit expected in this budget is $2.87 million

5: The general rates hike percentage for Livingstone Shire Residents for six months

33: $33 million cash comes across to the new council with the balance to be calculated for transfer in March 2014

16: The rates hike initially predicted by the Queensland Treasury Corporation

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