Councils: Clarity needed on natural disaster funding

CLARITY on natural disaster funding arrangements is essential to improve regional Queensland's recovery, three local councils will argue on Wednesday.

The calls from Bundaberg, Lockyer Valley and Southern Downs regional councils will be made at the Local Government Association of Queensland's annual conference in Cairns.

Three key motions on disaster funding, day labour immediately after a disaster, and the state government's new emergency management levy will be debated during the conference.

As Bundaberg continues to recover from the Ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald, the council will call on LGAQ to lobby the state government to change the new levy.

The levy, which comes into effect on January 1 next year, expands the Urban Levy Scheme, to raise funds for the state government for emergency management.

While councils will collect the money from ratepayers, they will be forced to pass on all the revenue to the state government.

Budget papers show the state government expects to reap more than $24 million from the levy this fiscal year, doubling to $51 million in 2014-15, before rising to $57 million by 2016-17.

But the Bundaberg motion calls for clarity on the new levy, to ensure land owners are only charged on their rateable land, rather than on every individual parcel.

The motion said the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service had clarified it, to say the intention "was to charge 'per parcel'".

But the state government itself has not yet publicly clarified how the levy will be imposed, particularly for rural property, where multiple lots often make up a single overall property.

Southern Downs Council has also called for the LGAQ to lobby state and federal government to allow council workers to get paid for cleaning up immediately after a disaster.

The motion said councils often start the clean up "knowing full well it will not be compensated" under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA).

"Being able to source funding for this interim period will provide a better outcome for the community at a lower community financial cost," it reads.

In Lockyer Valley, where floods ripped new rivers and watercourses in the area, the council has called for disaster funding to help pay the costs of surveyors in reinstating property boundaries.

"If these surveys are uncoordinated, there may well be ongoing confusion and dispute with other landholders, local governments, state agencies and service providers," the motion reads.

The motion highlighted questions over legal property boundaries after significant floods, saying existing state laws could be used to fix the problem.

All motions will be debated during the LGAQ official annual general meeting on Wednesday.



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