The Community Wellbeing and Environment charge has been explained after questions were asked about the item on Bundaberg Regional Council rate notices.
At $100 per year, or $50 every rate notice, the charge goes towards important projects and services which support community wellbeing and the environment.
The charge was first introduced in 2021 and replaced two separate Community and Environment and Rural Fire Levy charges which totalled $50 and $30 respectively.
The Community Wellbeing and Environment charge was developed to provide funding surety for public safety, emergency management and community projects.
It encompasses a broader scope than the two previous charges, expanded to include disaster management, public safety and other vital emergency services.
Finance portfolio spokesperson Cr Steve Cooper said public safety was a high priority for Council and the charge provided certainty in challenging times.
“This charge provides greater transparency about the services Council provides funding to which are outside of the ordinary scope of local government, while also ensuring funds are available for important community projects like increased shade sails at parks,” Cr Cooper said.
“The charge supports Council grants to organisations like Surf Life Saving Queensland, SES, LifeFlight, Rural Fire Service and RFDS.
“There are also environmental projects like the Washpool Creek restoration which have been supported by this charge, along with continued investment in CCTV security cameras.”
He said there had been cost shifting from the state to local government over many years, which had increased the burden on Council to support organisations such as Rural Fire, SES and Surf Lifesavers.
“Ideally, these should be funded exclusively through the state’s Emergency Management Levy.
“Unfortunately, there’s a shortfall in what the State Government delivers and those organisations wouldn’t survive at current service levels without Council support.
“Likewise, CCTV should be a police and Government responsibility, but we recognise that ratepayers expect Council to maximise the security benefit that cameras provide.”
Community Wellbeing and Environment charge initiatives for the 2022/23 financial year:
- State Emergency Services
- Rural Fire Brigades
- Surf Life Saving
- Disaster Management
- Illegal Dumping and Vector Control
- Public Space CCTV
- Royal Flying Doctor Service
- Rubbish removal from waterways
- Water safety and boating
- Dunal Management
- Additional shade structures throughout the region
- Pedestrian refuges
- Woodgate Sea Wall and Sand Nourishment Project
- Moore Park beach Masterplan
Cr Cooper said, in most cases, the $100 per annum Community Wellbeing and Environment Charge was lower than the separate charges made by other Councils throughout the state.