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Somerset Regional Council Meeting Highlights - 10 September 2021

Published: 10th September 2021

4G phone tower approved for Mount Kilcoy

Somerset Regional Council has conditionally approved a new mobile base station at Jenkinsons Road, Mount Kilcoy.

Local Disaster Management Group representative Cr Kylee Isidro said, "Getting better mobile coverage in rural areas is vital for keeping people connected during tough times and important for developing our economy and rural lifestyle."

"We examined this proposal in detail to ensure that all planning scheme requirements and legal requirements can be met and we have worked closely with Telstra to defer consideration until the community could be better consulted about the proposal."

"Telstra have clarified their engagement processes and outcomes with the local community and we are satisfied with their responses."

The tower will be a low energy and low exposure tower that will be co-located with existing Telstra facilities and funded under the Federal Government's Mobile Blackspot Program to fix a known poor mobile reception area.


Dog registration discount period reopened until 30 September 2021

Somerset Regional Council will extend the due date for dog owners to register their dogs at the discounted rate until 30 September 2021.

Human Social Recovery Sub-Group representative and Deputy Mayor Cr Helen Brieschke said, "Rolling pandemic lockdowns and restrictions have played havoc with people's plans during August 2021 and we are ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to register their dogs at the discounted rate."

"Where people have missed the discount and paid at the standard rates over the last month or so, we will apply a credit for the discount."

"We really encourage people to use the extended due date as a chance to register their animals as required under State-wide legislation."

"We pick up too many wandering dogs and registering your dog could make a big difference if your dog is found wandering," Cr Brieschke said.


Long Drive for Drought $1000 donation

Somerset Regional Council has donated $1,000 under the Long Drive for Drought campaign, raising funds for the Drought Angels charity.

Somerset Mayor and Local Disaster Management Group Chair, Graeme Lehmann said, "We were really pleased to be able to launch the Long Drive for Drought Campaign with the LGAQ in Kilcoy and support the awesome work being done to help farmers doing it tough through drought."

"Somerset is one of too many drought-declared areas in Queensland and we have been on the drought list since 2017."

"As an indication of how patchy rainfall has been in our area, Wivenhoe Dam is sitting on around 41%, even though we know dams closer to the coast are close to capacity," Mayor Lehmann said.

Drought Angels has assisted more than 7,000 farming families in need by supplying goods, care packs and direct financial support where it's most needed.


Rail Trail to Wivenhoe Hill Trail network link

Somerset Regional Council will commission surveyors to help determine the best location for a recreation trail along Coominya Connection Road between West Road and the Brisbane Valley Highway.

Economic Recovery Sub-Group representative, Cr Bob Whalley said, "What we are looking at is a link trail between the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail and Seqwater's Wivenhoe Hill Trail network."

"A link trail has been earmarked in the BVRT strategic plan as a way of giving us a greater range of activities and options to attract trail users and to give BVRT riders access to the lakeside accommodation at Logans Complex campgrounds."

"We have already scouted this route without going on the Brisbane Valley Highway by using a mix of local roads and a track following a water intake line on a public road reserve - we know it can be done," Cr Whalley said.

The main challenge is getting trail users safely along a 2.5km section of Coominya Connection Road. Councill will be surveying this section of road reserve to identify potential for an off-road track following the road.


6.6% annual Australian Government funding increase for Somerset

Somerset Mayor Cr Graeme Lehmann has hailed the announcement of a 6.6% increase in funding under the Australian Government's Financial Assistance Grant for Somerset as an opportunity for improved infrastructure in the region.

"We are always working to increase support for our community through grants and we are very grateful to the Australian Government for its strong support."

"During the 2020 financial year, we were unfortunately among the 70% of Queensland councils that spent more than it earned according to Queensland Audit Office."

"This 6.6% increase equates to an additional $230,000 a year which will really help support our efforts to build infrastructure, to help develop our economy for the long term and to inject funds into the economy in the short term."

"The big difference between this funding and other grants is that this is not just a once-off project grant — it provides annual, year-by-year funding that we can rely on from the Australian Government to support us through this pandemic," Mayor Lehmann said.


Waverley Road sealing proposal

Somerset Regional Council will lodge a second submission under the Australian Government Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program.

Local Disaster Management Group representative, Cr Jason Wendt said, "Our main application has been to develop a Fernvale Firewall along Muckerts and McCulkins Lanes to improve accessibility for emergency services to protect properties in and around Fernvale. The firewall will slow the progress of any fires entering the town, extending the time for evacuation and improving evacuation routes in the case of a serious bushfire event around Lowood or Fernvale."

"We will also seek funding to protect areas on the boundary between Somerset and Brisbane, with the goal of providing better evacuation and emergency access routes in that fairly inaccessible area."

"People may not be aware that Waverley Road in Lake Manchester is actually our second-busiest unsealed road after Muckerts Lane and there have been bad bushfires around Lake Manchester in previous years."

"Getting funding to widen and seal most of Waverley and Sheppards Roads would significantly help with any future emergency response at our Brisbane boundary," Cr Wendt said.


Customer service requests lowest for year

Somerset Regional Council has received an operational report showing that customer service requests for August 2021 were the lowest for the year so far.

Traffic and Safety Advisory Committee representative, Cr Sean Choat said, "We know we can always do better but it is always heartening to see a drop in complaints."

"The 150 operational customer service requests were related mainly to road maintenance and waste management issues and we have been pushing ahead with gravel road maintenance while the weather has been good."

"We are also getting ready to roll out our $1.8M bitumen resealing program over the next few months to keep our bitumen road network waterproof and in the best possible condition as we head into summer," Cr Choat said.


Not-for-profit community groups share in $13,000 rate assistance

Somerset Regional Council has approved nearly $13,000 in rates remission through the community assistance grants program for not-for-profit groups.

Council's community assistance grants program will support more than $165,000 in community group projects and costs this year.

Human Social Recovery Sub-Group representative, Cr Cheryl Gaedtke said, "We are seeing strong demand for our community assistance grants this year and we recently called for submissions to offset general rates by community groups."

"We have been pleased to support 11 groups with their requests for $12,996 in support ranging from Brisbane Valley Pony and Hack Club at Ottaba, Glamorgan Vale Tennis Club and Kilcoy Bowls Club," Cr Gaedtke said.

Council's community assistance grants are in addition to $40,000 in budgeted support for Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) grants this financial year.

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