SLUGGED AGAIN

Coun­cil agrees to re­view fee struc­ture af­ter cham­ber boss hits out at ‘un­fair’ waste­water charges:

Isis Town and Country - - FRONT PAGE - By MELINDA BRAD­FORD

FRESHLY elected Childers Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Troy Ma­dle has taken on Bund­aberg Re­gional Coun­cil af­ter a fee was in­tro­duced to man­age trade waste dis­charged into the re­gion’s sew­er­age sys­tem.

And the coun­cil has lis­tened, vow­ing to re­view its fee struc­ture.

The coun­cil claimed the util­ity charge, im­ple­mented on July 1 , cov­ered the in­creased costs of treat­ment, trans­port and as­set degra­da­tion in­curred by pro­cess­ing commercial waste­water.

The fees have been bro­ken into three cat­e­gories, rang­ing from $150 to $840, and would be charged to all busi­ness premises with a Trade Waste Ap­proval.

But Mr Ma­dle, a me­chanic who has been in busi­ness for about 14 years, ar­gued the charge was an “un­fair tax” pun­ish­ing small businesses who did the right thing.

He said he had al­ready in­vested about $10,000 worth of ef­fec­tive mea­sures to con­trol waste from his busi­ness.

“And we mon­i­tor what chem­i­cals we use. I don’t use caus­tics and hard chem­i­cals and things like that,” he said.

“I’m the clean­est op­er­a­tor you’ve got. Why tax us?”

Mr Ma­dle ar­gued the coun­cil charges would cre­ate an un­even play­ing field on which “front-door” businesses would be taxed, while mo­bile me­chan­ics and other un­li­censed oper­a­tors would dodge the fees.

“Some heavy in­dus­tries are ex­empt and they’re the big­gest pol­luters of all,” he said.

“(The coun­cil) hasn’t thought of the im­pli­ca­tions.

“There are oper­a­tors out there now – mo­bile me­chan­ics and oper­a­tors that aren’t li­censed – that aren’t abid­ing by the rules what­so­ever.

“They’re just pol­lut­ing at their own free will, ev­ery day.”

Mr Ma­dle said the tax could even­tu­ally kill off small businesses.

“They keep pun­ish­ing small businesses when­ever they are short of a dol­lar,” he said.

“Small busi­ness is un­der ever-in­creas­ing strain and can­not af­ford this non­sense.

“If you kill off busi­ness, you’ve got no town, you’ve got no hub, you’ve got no heart. Sooner or later the last straw breaks the camel’s back.”

Mr Ma­dle said he was also dis­ap­pointed in the way the coun­cil had im­ple­mented the charges.

“It’s de­ceiv­ing and un­der­handed, as far as I’m con­cerned,” he said.

“If you’re go­ing to in­tro­duce a new tax, be hon­est and talk to the com­mu­nity about it so they have the op­por­tu­nity to go to their cham­ber of com­merce.

“Use the sys­tem we’ve got here to get a fair, hon­est tax, rather than in­vent a tax that you haven’t thought through.”

Af­ter field­ing com­plaints from businesses and non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions af­fected by the charges, Di­vi­sion 2 coun­cil­lor Tony Ric­cia­rdi has told the Town & Coun­try the coun­cil would re­visit its pol­icy and re­con­sider the fee struc­ture to find a res­o­lu­tion.

Cr Ric­cia­rdi said he recog­nised some businesses had gone to the ex­tra ex­pense of in­vest­ing in tech­nol­ogy to man­age waste, which was some­thing he con­ceded the coun­cil needed to take into con­sid­er­a­tion.

“Coun­cil is not go­ing to dou­ble-dip on any­thing like that,” he said.

“I sup­port Troy’s com­ments. It’s a lot of money he’s in­vested into that sys­tem.

“We’ll look at a fair re­sult for him and look at what charges will ap­ply, if any at all.

“We’ll in­ves­ti­gate it fur­ther. There might be people out there like Troy and we’ll ad­dress those one by one over the next cou­ple of days.”

NOT FAIR: Troy Ma­dle is fight­ing against a new charge on small busi­ness by Bund­aberg Re­gional Coun­cil.

PHOTO: ZACH HOGG BUN110714TAX2

NOT FAIR: Troy Ma­dle is fight­ing against a util­ity tax be­ing brought in by Bund­aberg Re­gional Coun­cil.

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