Mayor Margaret Strelow sitting behind the desk in her office after official announcement of her election. Rockhampton election update.
Mayor Margaret Strelow sitting behind the desk in her office after official announcement of her election. Rockhampton election update. Sharyn O'Neill

Flood levee needs 51% plus support to go ahead - Mayor

RESIDENTS and business owners who would be protected by the South Rockhampton Flood Levee will be given the chance to say whether or not they are prepared to help pay for the project.

And Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow says that if it's not "50% plus one" who are willing to pay, then the levee won't go ahead.

Cr Strelow made the comments on Wednesday on radio station 4RO as she took to the airwaves in the first of three one-hour-long debates on the flood levee.

She issued invitations to three concerned residents who are opposed to the flood levee.

On Wednesday, it was driving instructor Leyland Barnett. Yesterday she fielded questions from businessman Dominic Doblo and today, former Rockhampton mayor Lea Taylor.

Cr Strelow said it was a good opportunity to try to explain the flood levee and its impacts, as well as to help counter some opinions she believed "could not be substantiated by fact".

The council plans to impose a "special rate" on the residents in Depot Hill, Port Curtis and Gladstone Rd to cover its $13 million share of the $39 million flood levee.

It is also banking on $13 million contributions from both the state and federal governments.

Mr Barnett opened yesterday's debate by asking Cr Strelow what the real cost would be for Rockhampton residents and businesses, as the levee would increase land values and, in turn, rates.

"I have got some drafts on that but I'd probably rather write to people individually first who are behind the levee," Cr Strelow said.

"I am happy to give a figure for those outside the levee and, at this stage, we are looking at $10 a year or 20 cents a week."

The Mayor said that the residents behind the levee would be asked to state their position on whether they were prepared to help share the costs.

She believes the council has developed an "affordable model".

"If it's not 50% plus one who are willing to pay, then it won't go ahead," she said.

Similarly, if the federal and state governments did not commit to the flood levee then "all bets are off".

The feasibility study - the amalgamation of all the work being done in the investigation, preliminary design and hydrology - is expected to be finished in early May.

OPEN DAY

A flood levee open day will be held on Saturday, May 10, from 10am to 2pm at Little-Cum-Ingham Park in Quay St, Rockhampton.

ONE QUESTION

Leyland Barnett: Will the whole region have to pay for the annual maintenance costs of the levee or just the residents who benefit?

Mayor Strelow: Everyone benefits from the levee and that is the cost benefit analysis we are still doing. I think this is the point that is not understood: when we do a clean-up after a flood we all pay for it. The maintenance of most pieces equipment gets shared by the whole community, whether or not you go to the theatre or whether or not you visit the art gallery. Everybody gets a benefit from the levee so while the people behind it are paying a special portion of the cost of that, and it won't be exorbitant, I think it's fair and reasonable that we all contribute for the maintenance because it's the clean-up costs that we all benefit from.

THE LAST WORD

Mayor Strelow: "I welcome this. I'm keen to have a chance to explain the levee better to the community."

Leyland Barnett: "Unless the feasibility report comes out, this is all airy fairy; it's contentious stuff. We need to get the report to get the true facts and what's going on and whether it is viable or not and that's the whole issue."



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