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Split by Noosa will affect the whole Coast, warns Jamieson

MAYOR Mark Jamieson has warned all Coast residents will be affected if Noosa splits from the Sunshine Coast Council.

He said the council would run a "no"campaign in the lead-up to the Noosa de-amalgamation referendum, expected by March.

"We've got a strong council effectively being turned into two weaker councils," Cr Jamieson said of the potential de-amalgamation.

"All along I said my preference is for a united council, a united region; we're a natural region and we rely on each other for our strength so to now potentially separate, that is not in the best interests of the region."

Cr Jamieson said the vote would not only affect the people of Noosa,  but all residents of the Sunshine Coast. 

"I think it's important for the people who get to vote - and those who don't - to understand exactly what the costs are, and how they will be affected," he said.

Cr Jamieson said he was worried about concerns identified by the Boundaries Commissioner, including the financial sustainability of both councils,  the ability to deliver key regional projects such as the airport expansion and  development of Maroochydore CBD, the effect on levels of service on tourism and the reduced capacity of council to contribute to the economic development of this area.

 

Earlier today Local Government Minister David Crisafulli announced the Boundaries Commissioner had recommended Noosa to go to a referendum.

"The Government has always been firm that despite the brutality of the forced amalgamations in 2008, we would prefer regional councils to work," Mr Crisafulli said.

"We've also said we'll give communities the opportunity to vote where there's a chance a viable council could be created.

"For Noosa, its case is the strongest in the state.

"But a decision needs to be taken with all the facts on the table, and people will have to make a judgment about whether reverting to an independent council is worth the cost."

Boundaries Commissioner Col Meng handed Mr Crisafulli the report on November 28, which recommended only Noosa go to a referendum.

Mr Crisafulli has decided that Noosa, Livingstone, Mareeba and Douglas will all go to a vote, but Isis will not because of financial restrictions.

For Noosa, Queensland Treasury Corporation (QTC) found the initial cost to de-amalgamate would be $13,651,000 or an extra $260 per ratepayer in the first year.

However, Noosa Independence Alliance spokesman Noel Playford said a new Noosa council would have $14 million in cash available to cover the full cost of de-amalgamation. He said this meant there would be no cost burden to the ratepayers of Noosa.

There would also be ongoing costs of an extra $142 per ratepayer in the following years, rising with inflation, Mr Meng said.

Tourism Noosa Chairman Steve McPharlin welcomed today's announcement and thanked Mr Crisafulli for "listening to members of the Noosa tourism industry in making this decision".

"Tourism Noosa has been liaising with our members and the State Government for some time on de-amalgamation and our members support this," Mr McPharlin said.

"This latest announcement is another positive step in protecting the uniqueness of the Noosa brand for the benefit of not only Tourism Noosa members but the wider Noosa community."

Mr Meng and QTC have spent the past two months working with proponents, stakeholders and Sunshine Coast Regional Council to all of the costs involved.

The Commissioner's report included:

  • wage costs for a Mayor and Councillors
  • wage costs for council staff
  • cost of equipment and IT
  • cost of de-amalgamation to the remaining council
  • cost of conducting a referendum
  •   ongoing costs, such as annual licencing fees and insurance

Mr Crisafulli rated the likelihood a new Noosa council achieving a sustainable future as good.

Only residents in the former council area will vote, with a referendum to be held in the first quarter of 2013. Voting will be compulsory.

Topics:  council, de-amalgamation, noosa, sunshine coast regional council




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