Tablelands baulks at $28m de-amalgamation estimate
A PRELIMINARY briefing conducted by the Tablelands Regional Council on de-amalgamation indicates the cost to ratepayers would be almost $30 million.
Tablelands Mayor Rosa Lee Long last week released the briefing to assist residents of the former Mareeba shire decide if they want to de-amalgamate.
These costs include the upfront expense of holding a referendum and new elections as well as expenses incurred in physically separating the former Mareeba shire from TRC.
“While it is difficult to estimate these costs, the report indicates that these costs could be up to $8.1 million based on the complexities encountered with any de-amalgamation,” Mayor Lee Long said.
Mayor Lee Long said ratepayers serviced by the Mareeba sewerage treatment plant would also face additional costs for the plant’s upgrading which will cost upwards of $20 million.
The Mossman sewerage treatment plant requires a $40 million upgrade by 2017.
"Under the current arrangement, where council has consolidated its sewerage schemes, the whole TRC area would share this cost but if Mareeba goes it alone, it will mean only those properties being serviced by the plant will pay this,” Mayor Lee Long said.
She said ratepayers needed to be aware that in the current economic climate, State and Federal Governments had reduced the level of government subsidies available to councils.
Meanwhile, the Friends of the Douglas Shire continue to gather support de-amalgamation with 24 places to sign the petition in Port Douglas and Mossman.
At least 20 per cent of ratepayers of the former Douglas shire need to sign the petition before August 20 for the de-amalgamation applica- tion to be considered.
FODS spokesman Robert Hanan said he did not think the $40 million upgrade of the Mossman sewerage treatment plant was a sticking point in the de-amalgamation debate.
“Residents of the Douglas region have already been paying and contributing to the $180 million upgrade of the Cairns sewerage treatment plant,” he said.
“We also pay for its ongoing maintenance and depreciation costs and will continue to do so as long as we are part of the Cairns Regional Council.
“Once we de-amalgamate we will only have to contribute to the costs of our own region and not to Cairns and its surrounds.”
Local Government Minister David Crisafulli said any costs must all be presented in the FODS submission.
“The potential costs of upgrades to infrastructure including sewerage treatment plants should be included in the group’s proposal,” Mr Crisafulli said.
“If the group’s submission is successfully referred to the Boundaries Commissioner, all the costs associated with de-amalgamation will be closely scrutinised by Queensland Treasury and revealed to the community prior to any decision.”