Hijacked Townsville Budget bad for ratepayers

Letter to the editor about Townsville City Council budget by Alec McConnell, former candidate for Division 2


Hijacked budget hurts ratepayers
Townsville Bulletin 16 August 2012
On Friday I attended the Townsville City Council special meeting for the Mayor’s 2012/13 budget speech. As a former candidate in Team Jenny Hill, I wanted to attend this meeting to see if any of our team’s commitments to the people of Townsville would get past the Townsville First voting block.  The budget presented by the Mayor was a surplus budget with identified savings delivering on Team Jenny Hill commitments.  The budget delivered on a rates freeze and a rebate on water for owner occupiers.
This was a delivery of most of the Team Jenny Hill commitments while dealing with a previously undisclosed $5million Deficit from the previous Council and an insistence by Townsville First Councillors back in May that her budget must be in surplus before they were willing to let her election commitments pass.

The Townsville First Councillors have been propagating two myths – firstly that they are financially conservative and secondly that they are ‘independent’.

The Townsville First Councillors have not once delivered a surplus budget themselves; while in office they ran successive giant deficits with the Townsville City Council debt also going up from about $100 million to its current level of about $400 million. Even the 2011/12 budget which they crowed about being a $25K surplus (petty cash for an organisation of this size) turned into a $5 million deficit… after the election!

These jokers did all this while increasing our rates and charges by extraordinary amounts.

As predicted the budget was significantly amended on Friday by the Deputy Mayor with the support of the Townsville First Councillors.

Most importantly the budget was amended to remove the essential financial relief that was being given to Townsville residents and businesses. These were central commitments of Jenny Hill.

The Townsville First Councillors stated in May 2012 that they would negotiate in good faith, but that the Mayor had to deliver a budget surplus for them to not block her election commitments.

Even with a budget surplus the Townsville First Councillors were determined to vote it down anyway for their own political reasons, removing the first financial relief for ratepayers that this Council has seen in five years.

Yours sincerely,

Alec McConnell




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