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30 June, 2021

Developers question water access charge increase in Mareeba

MAREEBA residents will begin forking out more money to pay for much needed water infrastructure upgrades, despite many having this brand new infrastructure already installed.

By Rhys Thomas

MAREEBA residents will begin forking out more money to pay for much needed water infrastructure upgrades, despite many having this brand new infrastructure already installed.

A motion was passed at the Mareeba Shire Council’s (MSC) special budget meeting on June 16 for ratepayers to pay an extra $196 on top of their water access charge for their yearly rates. 

This money will be put towards the upgrades of Mareeba’s 60 plus year old water infrastructure that includes pipes, pumping stations, water reservoirs, treatment plants and other assets. 

This $196 cost has already been offset by several state and federal grants however Mareeba homeowners will be made to pay the fee, even if their infrastructure is brand new. 

Sam Girgenti, a director of Sibi Girgenti Real Estate and one of the land developers in Mareeba believes that this increase in unfair. 

“We pay quite a substantial fee to get the water infrastructure installed when developing new blocks, we put in the best of the best it’s very strict,” he said. 

“They (homebuyers) have already paid for that infrastructure by buying the block because obviously we pass the cost along. 

“I don’t think it’s fair because where is all that money per block going?” 

Currently Mareeba developers have to pay around $10,000 per block just for water, firstly to have the right to connect to town water and secondly to put in place the appropriate infrastructure. 

Sam Musumeci, one of the directors of Amaroo Estate is concerned that MSC is not promoting growth by increasing the cost to live in the Mareeba Shire. 

“I don’t know whether it’s fair or not fair, but is it smart,” he said. 

"Is it encouraging investment into the town, is it encouraging new people to come to town, is it encouraging growth?

“Instead of charging extra for the water, perhaps if they increase their rate base, will they achieve the same outcome.

“By encouraging more people to come to town, you have more ratepayers.” 

MSC Mayor Angela Toppin has revealed that if a ratepayer does not or cannot access council water, they will not have to pay the new water access charge increase.

“Every household or business that has access to council’s water supply and normally pays a water access charge is going to see the increase on their next rates notice,” Cr Toppin said.

“All who do not or cannot access council water do not have to pay water access charge. 

“The increase in the water access charge is permanent.” 

The Shadow Minister for Water and the Construction of Dams and Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing Deb Frecklington was in Mareeba last week, getting a chance to hear about Mareeba’s water infrastructure needs. 

“It is disappointing to see the Mareeba Shire Council has been forced to take matters into their own hands due to a complete lack of support from the State Labor Government,” Ms Frecklington said. 

“There are water infrastructure projects ready to go in the North, however the State Labor Government refuses to take any action. 

“The State Government had an opportunity last week in their budget to fund new water infrastructure projects, and they failed.”

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