The long-delayed Southside Sewereage scheme is back before councillors once more as they continue to grapple with how to pay the final $15 million cost.
The long-delayed Southside Sewereage scheme is back before councillors once more as they continue to grapple with how to pay the final $15 million cost.

6 things to be discussed at council's first meeting of year

The spectre of the Southside Sewerage scheme is returning to council's chambers this week as councillors continue to grapple with how or even whether to foot the $15 million cost finish the delayed scheme it off.

The future of the 16-stage plan to connect Southside properties to the region's infrastructure will be the first item off the rank at the council's first meeting of 2021 on Wednesday morning

Nine stages are still to be completed in the scheme which was introduced in 2013 but stalled in 2018, leaving potentially residents in the lurch.

The program to sewer the Southside started in 2013, but stalled in 2018.
The program to sewer the Southside started in 2013, but stalled in 2018.

The council subsequently came under fire not only for the delay but the lack of information around it, including revelations last year the lack of communication with affected residents was by internal council direction.

However the scheme's future remains murky amid debate on whether residents who benefit from the scheme should be connected for free, as previous councils had promised, or have to contribute part of the cost.

The council's staff report says outside introducing a specific charge for properties that will directly benefit from the scheme it will not pay for itself.

This special charge would need to be three times the cost of the current sewerage service charge for the council to break even.

Even with contributions of between $5000-$7000 per property for the connections the council would still be have to covers costs of between $6.3 million to $9.8 million.

This cost would ultimately be born by all of the region's ratepayers.

Adding to the problem is the expected cost of maintaining and expanding the region's existing water infrastructure.

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The report says renewing these assets is expected to about $7.5 million each year with another $1.5 million needed for new projects identified in the council's infrastructure plan.

Gympie Town Hall
Gympie Town Hall

Sewering the Southside will add another $1.8 million, staff say, bringing the yearly bill to $10.8 million every year - well above what the council has been paying in the past.

"Over the past three years, the overall capital program has been in the order of $6m per year with insufficient funds allocated to renewal projects," the staff report says.

" Historically, the Southside program has been delivered from revenue funds as if it was a renewal project.

"This practice has however caused considerable financial pressure on the overall content of the water and sewerage capital program, resulting in the deferral of many critical renewal projects."

Southside's sewerage connections are not the only infrastructure asset on the agenda.

Councillors are expected to accept a $250,000 to replace a water main on Chapple St at the end of its life span.

The council is expected to endorse a $250,000 tender to replace an 80-year-old water main on Chapple St.
The council is expected to endorse a $250,000 tender to replace an 80-year-old water main on Chapple St.

The existing one is more than 80 years old and is limiting the firefighting capacity on the street.

The State Government will pay part of this bill through the 2020-21 COVID Works for Queensland program.

Other items on Wednesday's menu include the establishment of a register of qualified electricians to help deliver the council's services, the transfer of a Cinnabar block of land from private owners to the council and a $234,000 refund to the Copp Rd Gospel Trust for upgrading sections of Copp and Ramsey roads as part of its development.

This refund is required under Queensland's Planning Act 2016.

Gympie Times


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