GOOD BUSINESS: Aaron Hill is one of the local business owners doing contract work for Rockhampton Regional Council.
GOOD BUSINESS: Aaron Hill is one of the local business owners doing contract work for Rockhampton Regional Council. Allan Reinikka Rokacontract

Council's local preference weighting boosts businesses

AARON Hill attributes almost all of his livelihood to the Rockhampton Regional Council.

The owner of Leish Pty Ltd has been subcontracted to the council since the last financial year in July, and said they cover almost all of his nine-day fortnight.

"They look after us, they give us regular work unless it rains or something like that," he said.

"I rely on them a lot."

And he's not alone.

Last November the council increased the local preference weighting for local businesses from 5% to 12% as a way to ensure local businesses were always considered first when sourcing for tenders or general business needs.

And due to that move, around $63.8 million was spent locally from the council this year; in comparison to around $34.7 million in 2014.

After discounting work that could not be completed by local business during Cyclone Marcia in February, the council estimated about 76% of goods and service expenditure was spent locally.

The increase was a hot topic in yesterday's performance and service meeting, with councillor Tony Williams even querying if they could move above the 12%.

While she understood the push to do more, Mayor Margaret Strelow didn't support the move.

"It went up from 5% only 12 months ago so I think it is significantly higher than any other council. We need to balance this with responsibility to the ratepayers as well," she said.

"We spend, on average, $50 million and we are already prepared to pay an extra 12% just to support our local businesses... it was a dramatic increase a year ago, because we saw the struggles the community was going through."

The local preference policy was also adjusted yesterday, moving the rating for Category 2, which covers businesses based outside of Rockhampton with a branch operating in town, from six to eight.

Outside dollars

Contractors from outside the region were hired to assist with the cyclone clean-up, this has impacted the local spend result:

Kerbside clean-up:

$1.04 million

Treefall clean-up:

$507,000

Clean-up contractors:

$440,000



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