Cost warning on council de-amalgamation
VOTERS in the de-amalgamation referendum next month will be given a simple choice of "in or out" but they are also being warned that an "out" vote comes at serious cost.Residents in the old Mareeba Shire are being asked: Should a Mareeba Shire Council be created by the de-amalgamation of the Tablelands Regional Council local government area, with the costs to be met by the Mareeba Shire Council?
A similar question is being put to voters in the old Douglas Shire in the poll on March 9.
Releasing the question yesterday, Minister for Local Government David Crisafulli said the Queensland Treasury Corporation had estimated that it would cost $8.2 million for Mareeba to de-amalgamate, which would cost ratepayers an extra $872 on their rates in the first year and $240, plus inflation, every year after that.
For Douglas to de-amalgamate, the cost would be $8.15 million which would cost an extra $701 a ratepayer in the first year with ongoing costs of $462 in subsequent years.
Mr Crisafulli said the poll was a "rare chance" for people to decide their system of local government.
But he added: "This referendum is a chance for the community to decide once and for all if it's prepared to pay to establish a new local council."
Mr Crisafulli said while people could argue that a council could adjust its costs in every budget, he had asked the QTC to provide a cost of establishing a new council that provided the same level of service.
TRC Mayor Rosa Lee Long said it was imperative that people at Mareeba understood the costs involved.
"They will be hit heavily in the hip pocket," she said.
Joe Moro, a member of the Mareeba Group of Concerned Citizens pushing for de-amalgamation, said Mr Crisafulli'semphasising the cost was "over the top".
Robert Hanan of the Friends of Douglas Shire said the group was disappointed by the question.
"Given the whole process, the way this has been conducted by the local government ministry, we are not surprised and it just means we will continue our campaign to discredit the figures," hesaid.
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