Funding, Productivity and performance at LGAQ conference

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Funding and productivity have been the key themes of the Local Government Association of Queensland’s (LGAQ) annual conference.

LGAQ has launched its 10 Point Policy Plan for the next election, and calls on the Government, Opposition and other parties to commit to proper funding programs for transport, water and flood mitigation infrastructure to better equip Queensland communities to meet economic challenges.

LGAQ President Margaret de Wit said Queensland communities needed hundreds of millions of dollars each year to ensure assets like roads, bridges and water treatment systems were able to support regional development and be more resilient in the face of disasters such as floods and cyclones.

“We need the Royalties for the Regions fund that we successfully fought for at the last election to remain a dedicated program with at least $200 million a year to invest in vital community infrastructure.”

“There should also be adequate and ongoing State funding for major investments in water treatment facilities, bridges, roads and other transport infrastructure so that the financial burden for building these vital assets to help the state's growth is not transferred to future generations.”

Delegates also voted to support a return to the original intent of the Royalties for the Regions funding program, following recent changes to its structure by the Newman Government.

Changes to the funding criteria have made state government bodies eligible to access the funding pool.

Queensland Councils have also voted to reject the cuts to the Financial Assistance Grants.

The annual conference also saw the launch of a new productivity and performance project that will encourage Queensland councils to provide value for money and better connect with their communities by using a range of data to benchmark their performance against other councils.

The project, dubbed Better Councils Better Communities, is driven by the need for councils to improve their productivity in response to heavy cuts in funding and subsidies from the Federal and State governments as well as reductions in their ability to raise their own revenue.

President de Wit said Better Councils, Better Communities would help councils continue to deliver value to ratepayers and residents despite coming under increasing financial pressure.

"The combined effect of revenue limits and lower funding has cost the local government sector approximately $800 million a year – and this can't be funded through more debt, rate rises or grants from external governments.

"As councils, we will need to manage this challenge through better productivity and financial performance as well as ensuring the community knows more about the essential work we do."