I REFER to last week’s front page story about Whitsunday ratepayers facing a major projects levy of $140 or significant rate rises (Whitsunday Times 11 July 2013).
Anyone who has not already done so should get online and read the Queensland Treasury Corporations’s Financial Assessment of the Whitsunday Regional Council and its current financial situation. The report makes for sober reading with council apparently needing access to emergency loan funding of up to $25M in order to maintain its financial viability.
The reasons given for council’s dire financial situation include ‘poor governance and management’ of capital works projects, ‘cost overruns’ and ‘concurrent scheduling’ of major projects including the new water treatment plants in Bowen and Proserpine, the new sewerage treatment plants in Cannonvale and Proserpine and the Airlie Beach main street upgrade.
However a further reason and major contributor to the problem seems to be the $18M worth of “repair works” carried out by council as part of the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangement that were out of scope for this scheme and therefore ineligible for reconstruction funding. From my reading of the situation it seems that these work were not repairs but improvements.
Before slugging ratepayers with the proposed levy or rate rises in order to pay for past mismanagement, I think council should provide a full and frank explanation as to what went on, how it was allowed to occur and what has been done to prevent any repeat? Four of the current members of council were part of the previously elected adminstration under which what can only be described as mismanagement occurred. I think they owe it to ratepayers to provide an explanation. Anthony O’Rourke AIRLIE BEACH