Somerset Regional Council Meeting Highlights 25 May 2022
Coronation Hall weekend hire charges reduced
Somerset Regional Council will reduce the weekend hire charge for the popular Coronation Hall in Somerset Dam.
Economic Recovery Sub-Group representative, Councillor Bob Whalley said the wedding industry had taken a hit since Covid and social distancing requirements.
“In response to a drop off in weddings being held at the wonderful Coronation Hall, we have reduced the weekend hire fee, as requested by the Somerset Dam District Progress Association, by 12%, down to just $1,550,” Cr Whalley said.
“Weddings have been big business in Somerset Dam Village but numbers have been affected by legal restrictions on gatherings and travel with weddings Australia-wide down by more than 30% according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
“This fee reduction seeks to stimulate activity in Somerset Dam where local businesses have been dependent to some degree on the wedding industry.”
Rural fire support extended in Somerset
Somerset Regional Council will consider providing increased financial support to Somerset volunteer rural fire brigades for the upcoming financial year.
Rural fire local area finance committee representative Councillor Jason Wendt said the additional funds would help ensure the Somerset community is protected.
“There is a fair process that goes into reviewing the budgets of 20 rural fire brigades and groups to make sure that the brigades have the resources they need to protect our community from all kinds of natural disasters and to continue to attract volunteer firefighters to sign up,” Cr Wendt said.
“We are grateful for the support of the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service officers who work with the brigades to do this and help us set a fair and reasonable rural fire levy each year.”
“Somerset residents won’t easily forget the 2019 fire season which would have been much worse if not for the actions of volunteer rural firefighters.”
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) has requested council consider raising the rural fire levy to generate $356,236 for the 2022/23 financial year.
Council acknowledges contribution of volunteers
Somerset Regional Council has acknowledged and thanked volunteers for their valuable contribution to the community.
The gratitude expressed by Council comes on the back of National Volunteer Week, Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteering, celebrated from 16 to 22 May.
Volunteering is widespread and diverse with millions of people volunteering every year to support communities across the country.
Councillor Jason Wendt said Volunteer Week gives Council the opportunity to formally acknowledge the efforts of volunteers.
“Volunteering is widespread in the community with thousands of volunteers active in Somerset,” Cr Wendt said.
“Volunteers are the fabric of our community and it is so rewarding when you become part of the these organisations – there’s community spirit and mateship.”
Somerset Regional Council has amended its 2022/23 Register of Fees and Charges
To ensure there is appropriate cost recovery for waste fees, Natural Environment Recovery Sub-Group representative Councillor Kylee Isidro said Somerset Regional Council had to increase commercial waste fees as a result of the Queensland Government’s State Waste Levy.
“The levy was first introduced in 2019 by the State Government as a way to encourage waste being diverted away from landfills with a greater emphasis on recycling,” Cr Isidro said.
“While Council is supportive of this notion and has introduced a number of its own waste diversion initiatives in recent years, we acknowledge this levy is an additional expense for business.
“As part of the levy, the State Government provided a rebate to local governments, however, this rebate is decreasing, meaning our residents will be the ones who will end up having to foot the bill.”
From 1 July 2022, the existing levy zone will be divided into a metro and regional zone with Somerset Regional Council included in the metro zone.
Local governments in the metro zone will increase annually by $10 per tonne each year, until the State Government general levy rate reaches $145 per tonne on 1 July 2027. All levy rates will then increase each year in line with the consumer price index.
“With local governments being on this price path, the best thing we can do is to encourage our residents to continue looking for ways to divert waste from landfill.
“Despite increasing costs, we have taken the decision to hold domestic tipping fees at the current levels for 2022/23,” Cr Isidro said.
Water security in the pipeline for Esk
A new water reservoir has been approved for development at Highland Street at Esk.
Somerset Regional Council has approved the application from Urban Utilities that will see drinking water received by the reservoir from an existing pump station located at East Street.
Council’s Director of Planning, Luke Hannan, said part of the site is affected by bushland and koala habitat, however the reservoir site is in a predominately cleared area.
“Some koala food trees will be lost however these will be offset and replaced through a voluntary offset agreement between Urban Utilities and Council,” Mr Hannan said.
“Further, any proposed landscaping will include locally endemic koala habitat trees.”
Mr Hannan added that during public consultation no submissions for or against the development application was received.
Cr Choat supported the development of “vital infrastructure” in the community.
“This DA is a good example to the wider community that council and bodies such as Urban Utilities do the right thing when it comes to koala habitat and minimising any impacts on wildlife while delivering vital infrastructure for our community.”
Council Supports Brisbane Airshow 2022
Somerset Regional Council has granted a temporary event approval for the Brisbane Airshow 2022 to be held near Toogoolawah on Saturday, 2 July and Sunday, 3 July.
The airshow will be held at Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield and event organisers, Australian AirDisplays, are expecting at least 12,000 people to visit the show.
The show will feature aircraft fly-ins, air displays including civil, military and war bird aircraft displays and parachuting as well as adventure flights, static displays, food and bar outlets, live music and more.
Councillor Sean Choat commended event organisers for bringing the showcase to Somerset.
“This is going to be our signature event into the future and I congratulate the organisers with their perseverance with this event that has been subject to postponement due to covid in 2020 and 2021,” Cr Choat said.
“Council is proud to be a major sponsor of the event in 2022.”
Lowood Truck Show to Roll into Town
A convoy of trucks, motorbikes and cars will make its way through Lowood on Saturday, 20 August.
The annual Lowood Truck Show was given approval by Somerset Regional Council to hold a procession along Lindemans Road, Prospect Street, Park Street, Michel Street, Main Street and Railway Street on event day between 11am and 12pm.
All vehicles will be on show at the Lowood Showgrounds afterwards with food stalls and entertainment also being provided by event organisers.
Aqua Aerobics make a splash at Toogoolawah
The Esk Aqua Aerobics Group will again carry out its popular classes at the Toogoolawah Swimming Pool in the 2022/2023 financial year.
Somerset Regional Council will provide the group with $3,500 through its Community Assistance Grants program for the group to provide a free bus to transport residents from Esk to the Toogoolawah pool.
Deputy Mayor Helen Brieschke said council invested the funds to support residents in keeping active and healthy.
“Unfortunately, the Esk Swimming Pool, which isn’t council owned, isn’t heated and does not provide steps for access into the pool for those with mobility issues,” Cr Brieschke said.
“Supporting our community is at the forefront of everything we do and council is pleased that there’s been an increase in residents participating in these classes since they moved to Toogoolawah and the bus service offered.”
Development fund grant awarded to Somerset group
The Linville Progress Association has been awarded a grant as part of the Regional Arts Development Fund.
Somerset councillor and RADF committee chair, Cheryl Gaedtke, said the grant would support a concert and workshops.
“The grant will help the group fund a unique live music concert at Linville Community Hall performed by Brisbane Bells – an ensemble of trained and talented musicians who play a four-octave range of handbells,” Cr Gaedtke said.
“In addition, the handbell musicians will offer a free workshop to participants in order to introduce the community to the foundations of handbell ringing.”
Launched in 1991, the Regional Arts Development Fund is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Somerset Regional Council to support local arts and culture.
For more information, visit somerset.qld.gov.au/community.
Council Meeting Days
Somerset Regional Council will hold its next ordinary meeting (and budget adoption) on Wednesday, 8 June.
Council meetings start at 9am in the Simeon Lord Room at the Esk Library in Heap Street.
Council has reopened meetings to the public however attendance is subject to pre-approval and application.
Mayor Graeme Lehmann said council was pleased to be able to reopen meetings to the public however due to COVID-19 and ongoing social distancing requirements, residents must request to attend meetings in advance.
“Residents are requested to email or phone council seeking approval at least three days prior to a meeting,” Cr Lehmann said.
Residents can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 5424 4000.
Agendas and all meeting dates for 2022 are available at www.somerset.qld.gov.au.
NB: Somerset Regional Council held its meeting in the Simeon Lord Room at the Esk Library on Wednesday, 25 May at 9am.