Rate rises to cover repairs as Federal Govt pulls funds

ROCKHAMPTON ratepayers could face a $20 million repair bill if we cop a repeat of the 2011-13 flood disasters.

That would have been the impact on residents over that period if the federal government's disaster funding for councils had been cut by 25%, as is now being proposed by the Productivity Commission.

Mayor Margaret Strelow.
Mayor Margaret Strelow. Contributed

In 2011-13 Rockhampton's share of the flood disaster bill was $5 million, but the mayor said ratepayers would have been hit with an extra 5% rate rise for five years if they had to pay an additional $15 million.

She met with the Productivity Commission on Friday to raise her concerns about what such a rate rise would mean for residents.

She said it was hard enough to find the $5 million, let alone $20 million.

"I think it's short-sighted. It is just so naive to think that local governments have got the capacity to pick up those sorts of repayments and those kinds of expenses. It's just absolutely ludicrous," she said.

"The only thing we could have done is put rates up to create a $3 million slice in every budget that you can then use every year for five years.

"That would mean some roads are not done for five years, or four years, or three years after the floods. That's not fair." The council was blunt in its submission to the Productivity Commission, which was provided to The Morning Bulletin, and said current funding arrangements for disaster mitigation were "grossly inadequate".

"Simply put, there is a lot of money spent on disaster response and recovery … and very little spent on mitigation," it read."

The submission also said Rockhampton Regional Council has, in the past five to six years, experienced $50-55 million worth of natural disaster damage.

They said they would have to increase general rates by 10% if it had to cover even 50% of these costs.

Ms Strelow said their only option in 2013 would have been to put rates up to avoid borrowing while they were still in debt.

A quote for the cost of insuring Rockhampton roads was $16 million.

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