Shane Williams at the start of his campaign to overthrow the present council.
Shane Williams at the start of his campaign to overthrow the present council.

Petition to sack council rejected

THOSE hoping to overthrow Southern Downs Regional councillors were dealt a blow last week as their petition was dismissed by the Local Government Minister Desley Boyle.

Headed by Stanthorpe businessman Shane Williams, a campaign kicked off following the release of this year’s budget and rate increases.

Thousands signed the petition, which was tabled by local MP Lawrence Springborg last month, and called for the existing mayor, councillors and chief executive officer to be removed because of their “incompetent” management of financial affairs.

However, Ms Boyle said her powers to dissolve councils were limited and could only be used in certain circumstances.

She dismissed the evidence provided by the petitioners and defended the council’s decisions.

In a letter to the parliamentary clerk, Ms Boyle said, “Southern Downs Regional Council has publicly acknowledged the financial challenges it faces with the former Warwick Shire Council being on a on a flat rate-in-the-dollar system, in comparison to the former Stanthorpe Shire Council where a differential rating system was in place. This is compounded by Stanthorpe and Warwick Shire Councils not having been re-valued since 2004 and 2006 respectively.

“In addition, the properties in the central business district of the former Stanthorpe Shire historically received a much higher rating than those in the former Warwick Shire. As an example of the discrepancy this caused, a property in the CBD of Warwick paid a rate in the dollar of .7747, compared to a property in the main CBD of area of Stanthorpe where the rate in the dollar was 7.4832 until this year; almost 10 times higher.

“All these factors have weighed heavily on council’s decisions regarding the implementation of one consistent rating methodology for the whole council area. This means correcting the imbalances of the past and rating properties according to the need for infrastructure and community services across the whole Southern Downs Regional Council area.”

The petition claimed that council did not comply with the principles of Section 107 of the Local Government (Finance, Plans and Reporting) Regulation 2010 as adopted by them regarding the equitable distribution of rates for the 2011 financial year.

Ms Boyle said her department’s review indicated the revenue statement met these requirements.

“As presented, the petition does not contain evidence that would give rise to me considering the use of my powers as Minister,” she concluded.


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