10 May 2023

Mayor baffled as council misses out on riches after recalculation

| Samuel Davis
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CAPE York’s largest council has missed out on a major pot of funding gold as regional Queensland mayors lap up their riches.

A review into the Financial Assistance Grants program has led to massive windfalls for some of the state’s smallest councils with funding increases of more than 40 per cent in some areas.

In the state’s North West, four councils’ bottom lines will be beefed up by more than $1 million this financial year alone.

But Cook Shire Council, covering more than 100,000 square kilometres, will receive a modest three per cent increase as a result of the changes.

And while mayor Peter Scott said the additional money is “better than getting poked in the eye with a burnt stick”, more would be appreciated.

“Where the funding support should be going is towards those who need it most,” Cr Scott told Cape York Weekly.

“People like us who desperately need it, that’s where it should be going.

“We get about 10 million a year but our depreciation bill is the same. So really it’s nothing for us.

“We’re the biggest shire in Queensland. Our recurring expenditure is around $30 million a year and we reckon we do a lot of government work on their behalf.”

He said more money could be spent on better protecting the agriculture industry and developing and maintaining infrastructure.

“At the moment, we’ve got one biosecurity officer to look after around 80 per cent of Cape York,” Cr Scott said.

“We’re coming into the disaster season … so there are a plethora of areas where we can apply it.”

Local Government Association of Queensland chief executive officer Alison Smith said Queensland councils could receive $160 million more per year if funding was increased to one per cent of the commonwealth’s tax revenue.

“With financial sustainability being a key issue for many local councils, this additional funding would provide much-needed local economic stimulus to support local supply chains and job creation,” Ms Smith said.

The Australian government has provided more than $60 billion through the program to local governments since 1974.

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