Work may never resume on Southside sewerage roll-out
Southside residents hoping to be hooked up to the city's sewerage network will be waiting until at least 2022 or longer for work to resume, if it ever does.
Gympie regional councillors said they will focus on communication with residents affected by delays to the scheme following more extensive discussion about how to foot the expected $15 million bill to deliver the final nine stages of the 16-stage project.
The project was scheduled to be finished in 2026.
It has been stalled since 2018 amid questions over whether landholders being connected should pick up part of the costs, or if the service should be entirely covered by the council - 2018 and 19's works were supposed to be in the areas around the Power Rd/Groundwater Rd/Mary Valley Rd, and between Groundwater Rd and Sorensen Rd.
Landholders would face a $5000-$7000 cost to connect their properties if the council went down that road.
CEO Shane Gray said a clearer picture of the options would be available in June when a review of the region's water and sewerage assets was expected to be finished.
""We've been doing a condition assessment for the past six months and we're identifying a number of issues," Mr Gray said.
"Nothing's free; everything's got a cost to rehabilitate or replace.
"We've seen the breaks in Tin Can recently … there are big asset decisions to be made to replace some mains that will impact on the ratepayers."
Councillor Warren Polley asked if this meant "in all likelihood it is 'no' until the 2022-23 financial year before we even consider something?"
Acting chief financial officer David Lewis said that was right.
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Cr Dan Stewart said this could be even longer as all indications from that review so far was the council "was not going to have the spare cash for Southside".
"We're better off making it explicit we're not going ahead with it at this time," Mr Stewart said.
Cr Bruce Devereaux asked if the council was considering allowing residents to connect to the new stages at their leisure, rather than "the moment it runs past".
"Part of the problem I think at the moment is that people have felt they've been promised this so they're holding off (fixing private septic systems).
"So we've got systems that should have been replaced that haven't, and when they have they're now worried, depending which way the council goes, they might get another $5000-$7000 that they've got to pay and they're still paying off the other."
Mr Gray said all options were on the table, along with the question of who ultimately pays what part.
In response to a question by Cr Bob Fredman if it was correct previous stages had been funded as a "renewal project", acting chief financial officer David Lewis said yes.
"Is that kosher?" Mr Fredman asked.
"No," Mr Lewis said.
"We've been using works we should have been using for renewal or rehab like upgrading water mains or sewerage mains; we've been using that money."
Cr Warren Polley, whose division encompasses the Southside, said he was "annoyed that it's being kicked down the road" but was grateful it had not "knocked on the head completely".
But this last point and what it meant for residents in the lurch since 2018 was a concern for Mr Stewart as it still "leaves it up in the air for a further period of time".
"I think we can wait six months … but it's unfortunate Southside residents have to wait another six month after already waiting years (for an answer)," Mr Stewart said.