Council agrees to review fee structure after chamber boss hits out at ‘unfair’ wastewater charges:
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.
NOT FAIR: Troy Madle is fighting against a utility tax being brought in by Bundaberg Regional Council.