RURAL RIGHTS: Gogango grazier Larry Acton says rural ratepayers are subsidising a city spending spree by the current council.
RURAL RIGHTS: Gogango grazier Larry Acton says rural ratepayers are subsidising a city spending spree by the current council. Contributed

Opinion: Rural ratepayers subsidising 'spending frenzy'

NO-ONE loves a rate rise, it goes without saying, but initial responses to Tuesday's draft budget release suggest that some ratepayers at least see value in the 3.9 per cent rise, especially if it means the city and the surrounding region can continue to move forward.

One rural ratepayer however says the rural areas, forced to amalgamate with Rockhampton, are the forgotten high rate paying pawns in Mayor Strelow's "spending frenzy”.

Gogango resident, Larry Acton says some of these dreams are commendable, but ratepayers are subsidising the extravagances while rural roads have had no maintenance for two years. (Read the full letter and the mayor's response below)

Exorbitant rates spent on everything but our road

I SEEK to comment on the direction our Rockhampton Council has taken in recent times - notice I neglected to say "regional” council.

We who live in the rural areas that were forced to amalgamate with Rockhampton are the forgotten high rate-paying pawns in the current mayor's spending frenzy. Whilst I can accept that some of these dreams are commendable, it seems that she is determined to out-spend the neighbouring Livingstone mayor and others while local ratepayers subsidise these extravagances.

A brief but costly list includes her proposed levy bank, the Quay Street river development, the Kershaw Gardens playground, a Supercar track (in a flood-prone swamp), a new art gallery, and even a ring road around the town.

Meanwhile, our rural road outside Gogango has not had any maintenance done for two years. During that time, we had two floods over a section of the road, with parts of the surface washed away, but still no action.

Some of us had to take our own machines along to make the road and culverts safe following these events.

Council staff themselves have identified three dangerous blind corners on the road but nothing is done. There are young P-plate drivers and families using the road every day, along with heavy vehicles carrying livestock and machinery, yet we cannot get any maintenance done, let alone any upgrades. There are 15 ratepaying residents on our road and the rates levied on them alone is around $90,000 per year, so we have now paid, in good faith, over $180,000 for zilch. We have had enough.

Surely, If nothing is done in the next month, we have every right to look at any other options that may be available. We have paid appallingly high rates for no service for two years now, while the mayor for Rockhampton "city” maintains her spending frenzy.

Larry Acton

Gogango ratepayer

Council response

THIRSTY Creek Road is an 18-kilometre stretch and maintenance was carried out on it last year for repairs including on floodway approaches.

It was inspected earlier this year and found to be fine, and graders are scheduled in to visit the Gogango area again in August this year.

The maintenance schedule for Thirsty Creek Rd hasn't changed since the road was maintained by Fitzroy Shire.

That said, council added an extra grader, which was commissioned last year and is allowing us to improve service levels.

In terms of residential rates, the latest data from the Department of Local Government shows we're among the cheapest in the region.

Sometimes our rural ratepayers compare their rates with that paid by rural properties in a neighbouring shire which has large mines contributing large sums to council coffers.

These councils use this money to offset the cost of some of the maintenance on their rural roads.

This is great for the rural properties in that area but the rates they pay are not then a true reflection of the cost of maintaining their roads.

As a bonus, I believe Thirsty Creek Rd will be upgraded when Rookwood Weir is built.

Mayor Margaret Strelow



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