TOP 7: Biggest issues current sitting council has faced
AS VOTERS prepare to head to the polls in few months to elect a new council, thoughts are turning toward the biggest issues this council has dealt with during the past four years.
From road levies to new developments, there have been plenty of topics the council has had to manage since the last election.
Here's the South Burnett Times' top seven biggest talking points from the 2016-2020 South Burnett Regional Council, in no particular order:
1. Road levy changed plus road complaints drop due to upgrades
The South Burnett Regional Council moved to bury the road levy in the general rates bill in June 2018.
Instead of it being a stand-alone levy of $200 per year that was charged equally to all ratepayers, it was to be spread across the various rate categories and tied to the value of land.
After the road levy was buried, during the past 18 months the council had also significantly reduced the number of complaints about the roads due to upgrades across the region.
At the December council meeting, the councillor responsible for the Roads and Drainage portfolio, Gavin Jones, said the fewer complaints the council received was a reflection of the work that had been completed.
"Reflect back four years ago, we were getting smashed - 90 per cent of the feedback were complaints and the other 10 per cent were good comments," Cr Jones said.
"We have really turned it around."
Read about the improvements to the roads here.
2. Ongoing issue of a proposed coal mine outside of Kingaroy
The mining licence for the company investigating the proposed Kingaroy coal mine was renewed.
A Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy employee renewed a mineral development licence held by Moreton Resources on January 17.
This has been an ongoing issue as Moreton Resources has held this mining development licence since February 22, 2009.
Member for Maranoa David Littleproud expressed his opposition to the proposed Kingaroy coal mine.
In an interview with Sky News he said he did not support the coal application for the site on the outskirts of Kingaroy.
"I don't support it, it's not the right place," Mr Littleproud said.
"There's a right place for coal mining, or mining of any description, but not on prime agricultural land."
Kingaroy Concerned Citizens Group, who were also opposed to the mine, said in a Facebook post they had previously written to the Queensland Government to request the licence was not renewed on the grounds that to do so would not be in the public interest.
Read more about the proposed coal mine in the South Burnett here.
3. Memerambi housing dwellings
In August 2018, South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell said he would keep a close eye on the Memerambi housing situation after the council invested more than $2 million as a loan to assist in completing the unfinished housing estate back in 2016.
The original developers went into receivership and could not complete the dwellings.
Cr Campbell said the issue had previously left a stain on the community but its rebirth would make the area more attractive for residents and visitors.
"Council has led the charge to try and find a solution to the problem and I'm very comfortable with the decision we made to borrow the money," Cr Campbell said.
"Our business in council here is to present a region that looks as attractive as is possibly can do and I'm very happy with the outcome."
Despite all of the issues surrounding this development, read about a young married couple who purchased property at Memerambi and have made it into a home here.
4. Kingaroy CBD transformation on hold
The South Burnett Regional Council was twice knocked back for government funding and is currently undertaking its third attempt to secure money for the project.
The council is seeking $4.5 million for the Kingaroy Transformation Project, formally known as the Kingaroy Revitalisation Project, under the Australian Government's Building Better Regions Fund.
If successful, the council said it would contribute a further $6.5 million, which was already allocated in the council's budget, towards the transformation of Kingaroy's CBD.
Back in November 2018, South Burnett councillor Terry Fleischfresser said there was a lot of below the surface work to be done in the first stages of the transformation project if it were to get the green light to go ahead.
"When we talk about the refurbishment or the revitalisation of the Kingaroy townscape, it is the total infrastructure," he said.
"It's everything below the ground surface, that's storm water, drainage, electricity, IT, telecommunications, all of that infrastructure will be repaired and replaced, and then the new refurbishment of the town CBD area will occur after that."
Read more about how the transformation project is tracking here.
5. Rail trail link ups
With the help of funds from the Heritage Bank, the section from Yarraman to Kingaroy of the South Burnett Rail Trail was officially opened in August 2019.
The plan was more than 20 years in the making after the mayor of the Nanango Shire at the time, Reg McCallum, shared a dream with a few fellow councillors of creating a horse track down the Blackbutt Range.
Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said at the official opening there was nowhere else she'd rather be.
"We now have the longest continuous cycle trail in Queensland from Wulkuraka and Kilkivan," she said.
"What an exciting day for the South Burnett.
"There really is no greater part of the world and I'm really proud of this.
"We wouldn't be here without former councillor and shire chairman Reg McCallum. It was his idea that made this possible."
Another section of the rail trail had also been a topic for discussion at various council meetings.
Last year the Department of Transport and Main Roads approved a grant of $48,000 to undertake a study on the construction of a rail trail on the old section of the railway from Murgon to Proston.
Mayor Keith Campbell said South Burnett Regional Council did not receive the report until its January meeting, on Wednesday.
"This study was not initiated by the council," Cr Campbell said.
"We were the only body who could apply for the funding."
Previously farmers held concerns over the rail trail being built because of the "fear of the unknown".
Read about the concerns proposed by South Burnett farmers here.
6. Grand opening for Bunnings in the South Burnett
The arrival of the iconic hardware chain at Kingaroy had everyone around talking around town.
The $15 million investment now employs 60 people from across the region.
South Burnett Regional Council's property and planning portfolio holder Terry Fleischfresser said the opening of this business on June 4 last year was a positive sign for the region.
"These new developments send a strong message to other big businesses that the South Burnett is a sound place to invest," he said.
However, not everyone welcomed the opening of the new warehouse, including Mitre 10, which is located right next door.
The former largest hardware store in the South Burnett reckoned it already offered everything residents needed.
Sunshine Mitre 10 Kingaroy retail store manager Steve Miatt said he was extremely proud of his team and the hard work they did for the community.
"We employ more than 40 people and have many staff with 10 years or more service and some with more than 15," he said.
Read more about the opening of Bunnings here.
7. Kingaroy IGA gets a facelift
Kingaroy's Super IGA shopping complex was given a makeover as new owner Mirko Zlatkovic took over the centre in October 2018.
The South Burnett Regional Council approved the expansion at its February 2018 general meeting.
After many months of looking like a construction site, the newly refurbished IGA was officially open by the South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell on November 2, 2019.
The Kingaroy centre now boasts an updated IGA supermarket and cafe, a bottle shop, chemist, takeaway food store and another shop still to be leased.
Check out some of the upgrades to the Kingaroy IGA here.