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Community & Business

26 May, 2022

Fund cut threatens projects

A REDUCTION in funds to improve facilities in Kuranda as part of a new agreement between Mareeba Shire Council and the State Government will mean critical projects to enhance the tourist village may not be possible.

By Robyn Holmes

Major works proposed for Coondoo Street in Kuarnda will now have to be scaled back due to a reduction in funds available.
Major works proposed for Coondoo Street in Kuarnda will now have to be scaled back due to a reduction in funds available.

A master plan for future works was put before the council last week, but it was clear that less money will now be available to undertake projects or even to maintain assets, with the 2022- 2031 agreement removing contributions that were previously sourced from Skyrail. 

The Kuranda Infrastructure Agreement fund has previously had up to $1 million a year contributed by both the Kuranda Scenic Rail and Skyrail, but this may now only be around $100,000 a year, depending on the number of tourists who use the train. 

“It is extremely disappointing with the reduced funding for Kuranda – this fund has been able to pay for $16.6 million of works over the years but we now will not have the money to do some of the projects going forward,” Mayor Angela Toppin said.She said they could not gather more revenue from the 3000 ratepayers of the Kuranda area and “nor should the rest of the shire have to bear that cost when there is no benefit to them”. 

While the new Kuranda township infrastructure master plan highlights numerous projects, both capital and maintenance, the limited funding under the new agreement will severely limit the capacity to deliver them. Cr Toppin said council would apply for grants as they became available to fund some of the future works. Funds carried forward from the previous agreement would be used for critical capital renewal projects, but ongoing income would be totally consumed by the required ongoing maintenance. 

“For the duration of the 2022- 2031 agreement, the amounts received by council will therefore be committed to amenity, maintenance, safety and depreciation,” the master plan states. “Remaining priority projects are unlikely to have a funding source for the duration of this agreement and will, unfortunately, impact the vision and objectives of the Kuranda Infrastructure Agreement.” 

Four projects will be delivered using carry-over funds of $1.65 million held from previous levies collected. The upgrade of Anzac Park will cost $300,000 which will allow the area to be reconfigured to an open space park, with renewal of existing pathways, lighting and seating areas. The Centenary Park upgrade has now been reduced in scope from a $1 million project to a $500,000 upgrade which will involve a basic renewal of the playground, shade structure and pathways only. 

The balance of the works will remain uncommitted and unfunded for the duration of the 2022- 2031 agreement. Similarly, the Coondoo Street Upper Refurbishment project was originally a $1.5 million project which would have delivered a renewal of the existing road seal, footpaths, lighting, tree up-lighting, street furniture, public art renewal and upgrade, irrigation systems and root barriers. 

But this has now been reduced to a $750,000 job which includes only a basic renewal of the road seal, footpaths and lighting. The fourth project to be funded this financial year is the renewal of planter boxes and garden planting in the CBD area at a cost of $150,000. 

There are five unfunded projects totalling $4.45 million:

  • The balance of the Centenary Park upgrade ($500,000) 

  • The renewal of Kuranda Entrance Statement Totems and signage ($150,000)

  • Footpath renewal and beautification of Rob Vievers Drive ($300,000) 

  • The balance of the Coondoo St Upper Refurbishment Project ($750,000)

  • Coondoo St Lower Refurbishments ($2 million) 

  • The widening and reconstruction of the Barron Falls Road to Masons Road ($1 million)

  • Barron Falls Road widening and reconstruction from Thongon Street to Masons Road ($1 million).

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