Jetty li­cence back­flip

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - Front Page - BY JARED LOUGHNAN

Goul­burn-Mur­ray Wa­ter has pulled back on pro­posed fee in­creases to jet­ties and other fore­shore struc­tures with its new oc­cu­pa­tional li­cences fol­low­ing pub­lic and po­lit­i­cal pres­sure.

Res­i­dents will now have their li­cences ex­tended for another year with only a CPI in­crease of about two per cent, dra­mat­i­cally lower than the orig­i­nal plan.

But fore­shore prop­erty own­ers can only breathe easy in the short term.

A re­view of the fees will still take place af­ter the Novem­ber state poll, re­mov­ing a thorny lo­cal is­sue from the loom­ing Vic­to­rian elec­tion.

Both Wa­ter Min­is­ter Lisa Neville and her op­po­si­tion coun­ter­part Steph Ryan along with lo­cal Ovens Val­ley MP Tim Mc­Curdy went on the record crit­i­cis­ing the pro­posed in­creases which would have seen fees rise by up to 600 per cent.

Li­cence holders fees were set to soar from around $300 to more than $2000 in some in­stances, along with new charges be­ing levied on those who pre­vi­ously did not re­quire a ‘‘fore­shore li­cence’’.

Fore­shore prop­erty own­ers tar­geted with the new and in­creased fees ex­pressed their out­rage, with some form­ing ac­tion groups to com­bat the pro­posed rises.

GMW ini­tially ex­tended its con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod for an ad­di­tional four weeks in the face of the po­lit­i­cal and pub­lic back­lash. More than 130 peo­ple pro­vided feed­back on the pro­posed fee struc­ture tak­ing ad­van­tage of drop-in meet­ings with GMW staff at Lake Eil­don, Goul­burn Weir and Yar­ra­wonga.

Last week the leg­is­lated mo­nop­oly put out a press re­lease stat­ing the pro­posed new fees and fee in­creases would not be go­ing ahead in 2018.

GMW plans to use the buf­fer pe­riod to map all fore­shore struc­tures for a new regime to be pro­posed in 2019, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment.

GMW manag­ing direc­tor Pat Len­non con­ceded his or­gan­i­sa­tion could have tack­led the pro­cess more ef­fec­tively.

‘‘We ac­knowl­edge our ini­tial cus­tomer en­gage­ment could have been bet­ter and we will be tak­ing all feed­back into ac­count in our next steps. As we pro­cess the in­put re­ceived we will re-en­gage with cus­tomers on a new fee struc­ture,’’ he said.

“The to­tal rev­enue if the pro­posed fee struc­ture had gone ahead was es­ti­mated at two hun­dred and forty thou­sand dol­lars per year al­low­ing for some cus­tomers (es­ti­mated 20 per cent) opt­ing to re­move a struc­ture or not ap­ply for a li­cence.

“The to­tal rev­enue would be less than the cost of ad­min­is­ter­ing fore­shore struc­tures for pub­lic safety and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, sur­vey­ing for unau­tho­rised struc­tures, ad­min­is­trat­ing dif­fer­ences be­tween com­mu­nity mem­bers which some­times arises, and gen­eral ex­penses.”

Mr Len­non de­nied po­lit­i­cal pres­sure was in­volved in the fee de­fer­ment.

“We were not un­der a po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tive to de­fer the fee struc­ture.

“Our cus­tomers told us so and we re­sponded with ad­di­tional con­sul­ta­tion and we are now re­think­ing our fu­ture fee struc­ture in light of that con­sul­ta­tion. Fur­ther en­gage­ment with cus­tomers will fol­low.

“It is purely the real­ity of ad­di­tional work from tak­ing on board com­mu­nity feed­back, in­clud­ing that we will now sur­vey un­li­censed struc­tures be­fore a new fee struc­ture is es­tab­lished. There is a lot of work in that.”

GMW ini­tially pro­posed to levy a new $300 fee on all prop­erty holders ad­join­ing the re­gion’s water­ways, with an ad­di­tional $295 charged for any ramp, jetty and/or slip­way; ex­tra fees were also pro­posed if jet­ties were larger than the stan­dard size of 6 me­tres long and 2 meters wide.

In ad­di­tion $100 fees were to be im­posed on a range of land­scap­ing el­e­ments and con­struc­tions in­clud­ing paths and steps, gar­den beds, paved en­ter­tain­ment ar­eas, shade sails, un­der­ground sprin­klers, power, build­ing struc­tures and ve­hi­cle ac­cess. For some li­cence holders the pro­posed fees quickly bal­looned out, spark­ing the back­lash.

GMW will con­sider all feed­back re­ceived and work through next steps, which will in­clude con­sid­er­a­tion of:

* Un­li­censed struc­tures – GMW will com­plete an ex­ten­sive sur­vey over the re­main­der of 2018 and into 2019 of all struc­tures to now in­clude those that are cur­rently not li­censed.

* Al­low­able struc­tures – cri­te­ria for ap­pro­pri­ate en­gi­neer­ing stan­dards, en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards and ad­dress user and pub­lic safety.

* Con­struc­tion stan­dards – specif­i­cally min­i­mum and max­i­mum sizes, and what is ap­pro­pri­ate at in­di­vid­ual stor­age en­vi­ron­ments.

* Man­age­ment con­trols – which seek to al­low the con­trolled devel­op­ment of pub­lic and pri­vate in­fras­truc­ture on stor­ages that we man­age. Man­age­ment con­trols also help to fa­cil­i­tate recre­ational use of the wa­ter­way where this does not im­pact on op­er­a­tional re­quire­ments of the wa­ter stor­age.

* Con­sid­er­a­tion of his­tor­i­cal use and li­cens­ing – tak­ing into ac­count fore­shore in­fras­truc­ture which has been in place for some time.

* Li­cence terms in­clud­ing time­frames for li­cens­ing.

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