Table­lands baulks at $28m de-amal­ga­ma­tion es­ti­mate

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

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.”

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