GYMPIE Regional Council has been saved from potential financial disaster by a State Government decision that it will continue to pay rates on land it now formally owns in the Mary Valley.
The land, purchased from rate-paying former owners by the government’s Traveston Crossing dam construction company, Queensland Water Infrastructure Pty Ltd, had still been subject to normal council rates and charges because of QWI’s status as an independent, though government-owned, company.
On a recent visit to the Mary Valley, Infrastructure Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said QWI would no longer be a presence in the Valley, with the transfer, as of last week, of all its Valley land holdings to Mr Hinchliffe’s Department of Infrastructure and Planning.
Yesterday, Mayor Ron Dyne said the department had indicated that it would continue to pay rates on the land, representing an important slice of income for the council, which already suffers fiscally from the fact that much of its area is government-owned forestry, on which rates are not paid.
However, the good news did not work in reverse, Cr Dyne said.
Forestry land in the Gympie Regional Council area was still not rateable under the government’s assets’ sale plans, because the land was still held by the government as Crown land.
Only forestry rights had been sold and the only forestry land which was rateable was freehold property purchased for forestry projects, Cr Dyne said.
“That’s freehold land and the government will keep paying rates on it,” he said.
“I think they have some of those near the Muster site.
“But most Forestry Queensland land is held under the Forestry Act and is exempt from rates.”
The government purchased a major share of the entire Mary Valley area under QWI’s land purchase program, associated with the proposed dam.
All up, QWI bought 494 properties in the inundation and buffer zone areas for stages one and two of the dam project.
The government says it has received only 97 expressions of interest from former landowners in the Mary Valley who are interested in buying their land back from the government.