Future growth of Livingstone shire hinges on major review
THE FATE of some Capricorn Coast businesses and also the future growth of Livingstone shire could hinge on an internal review of infrastructure charges.
It shapes up as one of the most important issues facing the new team of councillors which was sworn in last month.
New mayor Andy Ireland along with new councillors Tanya Lynch and Andrea Friend will be the fresh sets of eyes when a report on the matter is expected to be discussed at a council briefing session on June 2.
At least one of the shire’s businesses is sweating heavily on the outcome because it could determine whether or not it survives.
In February, the former council decided to postpone a decision on whether to waive or reduce the infrastructure charges facing the owners of Bondoola tourist operation, Savannah Park Retreat, until an internal review of such charges was completed.
Prior to this, the owners had explained they could not afford the $63,700 in infrastructure fees required to meet the council’s compliance regime.
Their case was far from “black and white” and there were a number of complexities involved.
On top of the uncertainty around what the council will decide and how long that may take, the owners of Savannah Park have been busy repairing structural damage caused by a recent hail storm, and like many other businesses, feeling the brunt of coronavirus-forced closure.
Regardless of what the council decides with their matter, the review of infrastructure charges potentially has widespread ramifications for the shire’s future growth in a post COVID-19 era.
Infrastructure charges are levied as part of the development assessment process to contribute to the provision of essential trunk infrastructure required to service new development.
Trunk infrastructure is the main infrastructure such as water mains or higher order roads.
At a council meeting in February, Cr Pat Eastwood said some of the fees imposed on Savannah Park seemed extravagant.
“I’m really looking forward to us having a really good look at this, and see what we can come up with,” he said.
“We need to be, I guess, helping these places survive rather than destroying them.”
Mayor Andy Ireland said he was yet to be brought up to speed on the internal review of infrastructure charges which started before he was appointed.
But he said he supported what Cr Eastwood had said about helping businesses survive.
“I 100 per cent support that,” Cr Ireland said.
“Because during the (election) campaign there was a common complaint made to me about the magnitude of council’s fees and charges.
“And look, I’m fully supportive of a review of all of our infrastructure charges.
“I think we need to do that.”
When asked if the council would consider COVID-19 impacts as part of the infrastructure charges review, Cr Ireland said everything would be considered.
“As part of an overall review, everything needs to be on the table and considered.”