Livingstone Shire Council and Rockhampton Regional Council - External Boundary Review

The Local Government Change Commission (Change Commission) has been asked to assess a proposal to change the boundaries between Livingstone Shire Council (LSC) and Rockhampton Regional Council (RRC). See the Minister's referral here PDF (1.28 MB).

The proposed change is to transfer three suburbs, Glenlee, Rockyview and Glendale, from LSC to RRC.

Financial assessment

In line with the Minister’s referral, the Change Commission engaged the Queensland Treasury Corporation (QTC) to assess the potential financial impacts of the proposed change on both LSC and RRC.

The QTC’s financial assessment was finalised in early April 2022 and is available to read here PDF (1.64 MB).

For more information, see the frequently asked questions section below.

What happens next?

Now the financial assessment has been completed, the Change Commission will soon ask locals what they think about the proposal to shift the boundary between LSC and RRC.

In mid-2022, a survey question will be sent to people who are on the electoral roll for the LSC and RRC areas as at the end of May 2022.  Completing the survey will be voluntary.

Anyone will be welcome to provide feedback on the proposed change by making a written submission. Written submissions will open prior to the elector survey and be available throughout the survey period.

Deliberations

After public consultation has concluded, the Change Commission will consider the financial assessment, written submissions, survey results, and other available information that relates to the proposed change.

It will then prepare a final determination report and provide it to the public and the Minister responsible for Local Government.  The report is expected to be available by the end of October 2022.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

The following FAQs address points in the QTC report and provide general information about how the external boundary review is being undertaken.

The Change Commission is the independent body established under the Local Government Act 2009 to assess whether proposed changes to Queensland’s local government areas are in the public interest.

For this review, the Change Commission consists of the following members:

  • Pat Vidgen, Electoral Commissioner of Queensland
  • Wade Lewis, Casual Commissioner, Change Commission, and
  • Peter McGraw, Casual Commissioner, Change Commission.

To deliver this review, the Change Commission is administratively supported by the staff of the Electoral Commission of Queensland.

The Minister responsible for Local Government asked the Change Commission to assess a proposal to transfer the suburbs of Glendale, Glenlee and Rockyview from the Livingstone Shire Council to the Rockhampton Regional Council.

Under section 18 of the Local Government Act 2009, only the Minister may refer a local government change proposal to the Change Commission.

The proposal to transfer three suburbs from Livingstone Shire Council to Rockhampton Regional Council may have financial impacts on both councils – whether positive or negative. These could also flow on to residents in these areas.

To gauge what these impacts might be, the Minister responsible for Local Government directed the Change Commission to engage the Queensland Treasury Corporation (QTC) to conduct a financial assessment.

The QTC was asked to assess the viability of the proposed boundary change and worked with both councils to estimate the financial impacts including how the change could affect council rates.

The QTC is the central financing authority for the Queensland Government and provides financial resources and services to the State. The QTC manages the State’s funding program to deliver sustainable and cost-effective borrowings for the Queensland Government, local governments, and other government related entities (its clients). In addition, QTC works in partnership with Queensland Treasury and its clients to provide financial and management advice.

The Queensland Treasury Corporation's (QTC) report considered the impacts of transferring the suburbs of Glendale, Glenlee and Rockyview from Livingstone Shire Council (LSC) to Rockhampton Regional Council (RRC).

As part of this report, the QTC looked at a range of council assets and liabilities including:

  • 1,266 rateable properties in the three suburbs (residential, commercial, and agricultural lots).
  • 26 council properties comprising mostly open-space assets, as well as a single residential property valued at $0.1 million.
  • $40.3 million in property, plant and equipment for roads, water and parks, including the transfer of the Mt Charlton Reservoir, water main, and other infrastructure servicing the Caves water scheme.
  • Between $4.7 to $8.1 million in debt. This estimated range is due to the different methodologies assumed by LSC and RRC in their financial modelling.

Based on financial forecasts and information provided by Livingstone Shire Council (LSC) and Rockhampton Regional Council (RRC), the Queensland Treasury Corporation’s report found that the proposed transfer of the three suburbs was likely to have a negative impact on LSC’s financial profile and a marginal positive impact on RRC’s financial profile.

The financial assessment also found the proposed boundary change would have a more pronounced impact on LSC, due to its smaller operating scale:

LSC operating scaleRRC operating scale

In 2021-22 LSC had:

  • 17,923 rateable properties (including those in the three suburbs), and
  • $1.0 billion in property, plant and equipment.

In 2021-22, RRC had:

  • 36,086 rateable properties, and
  • $2.8 billion in property, plant and equipment.

In 2024 - 25 the proposed transfer is forecast to:

  • decrease LSC’s ratepayer base by 6.7%, and
  • decrease property, plant and equipment by 3.7%.

In 2024 - 25 the proposed transfer is forecast to:

  • increase RRC’s ratepayer base by 3.4%, and
  • increase property, plant and equipment by 1.3%.

Livingstone Shire Council’s (LSC) total revenue is expected to decrease by $59 million over the forecast period (2024-25 to 2030-31), while Rockhampton Regional Council’s (RRC) is forecast to increase by $36 million. This variance is mainly due to the different setting of rates and charges between the two councils.

The Queensland Treasury Corporation report considers both LSC’s and RRC's capacity to manage financial risks and unexpected situations.

It also discusses key financial metrics such as cash flow, operating performance, leverage, debt serviceability and capital funding assumptions.

For more information, see the report PDF (1.64 MB).

Because rates are set by individual councils, it is not possible to specify how rates could change if the proposed change goes ahead.

The Queensland Treasury Corporation (QTC) figures shown below are indicative only and are based on the forecasts provided by Livingstone Shire Council (LSC) and Rockhampton Regional Council (RRC).

These forecasts were provided at a point in time and may be subject to change as part of each council’s annual budget process.

The QTC report indicated the following changes may occur if the full financial impact of the change is passed on to residents:

  • LSC’s net operating result would be lower by $26.4 million over the forecast 2024–25 to 2030–31 period. This negative impact would potentially equate to $161 per rateable property in 2024-25, increasing to $250 per rateable property by 2030-31.
  • RRC’s net operating result would be higher by $5.7 million over the forecast 2024–25 to 2030–31 period. This positive impact would potentially equate to $36 per rateable property in 2024-25, decreasing to $14 per rateable property by 2030-31.
  • Glenlee, Glendale and Rockyview – RRC estimates an average rates and utilities bill for the three suburbs would be $4,627 in 2024–25, compared to LSC’s forecast rates and utility charges of $5,300 for that year. Therefore, the average rates and utilities bill for the three suburbs would be potentially lower by $673 in 2024-25.

These figures are intended to provide an indication of the potential difference in average rates and charges, rather than provide an estimate of the absolute costs to ratepayers.

As the boundary change is only proposed, any terms and conditions would have to be negotiated between LSC and RRC should the transfer proceed (e.g., any cash to be transferred). These details could impact the financial assessment and associated affect on rates.

Further information about these forecasts is included in the QTC report PDF (1.64 MB) (See pages 6, 21-22).

The Queensland Treasury Corporation (QTC) reviewed the following information provided by the Livingstone Shire Council (LSC) and Rockhampton Regional Council (RRC) from September 2021 to January 2022:

  • 10-year financial forecasts if no boundary change occurred (business-as-usual).
  • 10-year financial forecasts if the boundary change occurred (change scenario).
  • Underlying assumptions, including each council’s proposed allocation of rateable properties, revenue, staff, contract commitments, one-off and recurring costs, assets, liabilities, and cash.
  • Any third-party financial assessments of the proposed change commissioned by LSC or RRC.

The QTC’s financial assessment did not:

  • Assess the financial impact for LSC and RRC at a council division or business-unit level.
  • Assess the non-financial impacts of the change to LSC and RRC.
  • Determine the allocation of rateable properties, assets, liabilities, staff, or other one-off or recurrent financial impacts.

The financial forecasts were developed by Livingstone Shire Council (LSC) and Rockhampton Regional Council (RRC) to support the financial assessment of the boundary review. They are based at a point of time (when the data was provided) and are subject to change.

During this period, the councils were in the process of developing the 2022-23 budget (and 10-year financial forecasts) including considering recent allocations of operating grants and potential impacts on service levels and future rates.

If the boundary change were to proceed, the terms and conditions of any transfer would need to be negotiated and finalised between LSC and RRC prior to implementation.

Therefore, the actual impact to LSC and RRC and their residents may be different to the information presented in the Queensland Treasury Corporation's report PDF (1.64 MB).

For analysis purposes, the Queensland Treasury Corporation uses 1 July 2024 as the date the boundary shifts for its change scenario.

This date is the beginning of the financial year following the local government quadrennial elections scheduled for March 2024, however it is not an official timeframe.

Should the proposed change be supported, the precise timing of implementation would be determined through the approval and implementation process.

The Queensland Treasury Corporation’s (QTC) financial assessment is one component of the Change Commission’s review.

The QTC report provides an understanding of the potential financial impacts of the change should it be implemented.

However, the Change Commission will undertake a holistic review of the proposed change including other considerations such as community views.

In addition to the financial assessment, public feedback will also be considered. This includes the level of participation in public consultation, the outcomes and supporting information.

A voluntary survey will be used to gather the views of enrolled electors in Livingstone Shire Council and Rockhampton Regional Council.

The Change Commission will also invite written submissions from anyone who wishes to provide their view or information they would like to be considered.

Some of the other matters the Change Commission is assessing are those raised in the Minister’s referral PDF (1.28 MB) and those prescribed under Division 1 of the Local Government Regulation 2012.

For example, the Local Government Regulation states that external boundaries should have regard for the following criteria:

  • communities of interest considerations
  • joint arrangements in conjunction with, or instead of a change to external boundaries
  • planning and development considerations, and
  • resource base sufficiency.

People on the electoral roll for the Livingstone Shire Council and Rockhampton Regional Council will be offered the opportunity to participate in a elector survey in mid- 2022.

The survey will be open for two weeks. It will resemble a referendum format, with a survey question and a ‘Yes’ and a ‘No’ response option. Participation will be voluntary and the result non-binding.

The survey will be delivered through a hybrid model, offering electors the choice of returning their response by post or by submitting an online form.

There will also be a three-week opportunity to provide written submissions to the Change Commission.

The submissions will be published on the ECQ website, subject to publication guidelines, along with the survey results.