Southern Downs councillors will use a special meeting to discuss where bushfire relief funds could be spent.
Southern Downs councillors will use a special meeting to discuss where bushfire relief funds could be spent.

Relief funds to be debated at open meeting

COUNCIL will congregate tomorrow to discuss how to best spend a $1 million windfall for bushfire recovery.

Southern Downs Regional Council has called a special meeting for the morning, to discuss submissions for the recently announced bushfire relief funding from the Federal Government.

SDRC will review and consider recovery and resilience projects before consulting with the government.

Southern Downs residents have been vocal in where they feel the money could be utilised.

“It’s bushfire funds. It should be for all local fire stations to make sure they have all the supplies they need for any future fires like masks, overalls, boots and maintained vehicles just to mention a few things,” Ruth Wilichowski said.

“Put some of the money into a food bank and fodder account for drought affected families here on the Southern Downs. Don’t waste it on administration fees,” Donna Perkins said.

An SDRC spokesperson said council has already discussed how the money could be spent.

“In the December 2019 General Council Meeting, council endorsed the submission of a number of funding applications to the Federal Government, including: upgrades to community halls, shades structures for parks in regional villages, water tank rebates for rural landowners, and debit cards for eligible residents,” a council spokesperson said.

“After further consultation and clarification with representatives from the Federal Government Department (AusIndustry) two project applications were deemed ineligible: the rural tank water rebate and debit cards.

“Pending endorsement by councillors, these proposals will be submitted to AusIndustry for further appraisal.

“Councillors agree that nominated projects should provide an equitable benefit to all residents throughout the Southern Downs,” the spokesperson said.

Despite some discussion to the contrary, the meeting at Warwick’s Council Chambers is open to the public from 9am.

“It should be an open forum so residents who have been directly effected can put a case forward as to where this funding can best used,” Melissa Harris commented on social media.

“How can people who haven’t been effected be left to make these decisions? They can only assume.”