Sporting clubs bogged down by ‘toilet tax’

STEEP PRICE: Gladstone Bowls Club Manager Peter Liddle says council rates and charges are stifling the club’s growth.
STEEP PRICE: Gladstone Bowls Club Manager Peter Liddle says council rates and charges are stifling the club’s growth. Michael Richards

NO ONE'S calling it the Toilet Tax, but that's the reality facing Gladstone sports clubs - remove toilets or pay per pan.

Gladstone Regional Council charges for water and sewerage are crippling sporting clubs, and the latest suggestion from city fathers - remove toilets and pay less - is a move all in the voluntary sector want to flush away.

Fourteen clubs this week collectively asked the council to, at the very least, reduce sewerage charges of $459 for every toilet on club grounds.

That's on top of general rates and charges for excess water consumption.

A charge per toilet is standard across local governments to fund the processing and disposal of waste.

We've given out lots of money to support clubs, so don't say the council doesn't support Gladstone sporting clubs. Maybe we can take those grants away and spend it on water instead. 

-Cr Graham McDonald

However, in some areas, such as Livingstone Shire Council which covers Yeppoon, sporting clubs are automatically given a 50% discount.

>>Clubs call on council to double water allocation

Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers has promised clubs here the council will consider only charging them for one toilet, but she made it clear she was "making no promises".

Council doesn't do things quickly, we're slow.

-Mayor Gail Sellers

In a written statement, the council said if the sporting clubs would not pay the charges then other ratepayers would have to pick up the slack.

The council's suggested solution? Get rid of the toilets.

In a letter to Wallabys Senior Rugby League Club former president Adam Hamilton, dated September 8, 2015, council chief Stuart Randle said: "Council has identified the potential for your club to reduce your sewerage charges with the removal of some connections."

We only water when absolutely necessary. We're too scared to go over the 4000 kilo litres. Maybe we could have a one-off charge for not-for-profit clubs?

-Wallabies' Adam Hamilton

That solution is not an option for current Wallabys president Andrew Lockwood, who said he was not in the business of tearing down other volunteers' hard work.

"We're not looking for a quick fix," Mr Lockwood said.

"And we're not in the business of taking stuff away that we've built. And that suggestion is where the frustration is coming from. If everyone takes that advice, the council loses $459 in revenue for each toilet and the clubs lose an amenity.

"That seems like a lose lose situation to me. I don't see the reasoning behind it and I don't see why we can't work something out."

Most of us turn the water off and just deal with the consequences later. We can't afford to cop the bill. We're here because we're asking for help. We're hoping to get a better outcome for all clubs. 

-Wallabies president Andrew Lockwood

Gladstone Rugby League Club have the biggest burden to bear with 22 toilets at Marley Brown fields which cost them $10,774.80 every year. Gladstone Bowls Club paid $29,410.35 in rates this year and $6635.70 of that was in sewerage charges.

I think everyone agrees it's not a fair system. We need more than the 4000 kilolitres a year. We all agree on that.

-Gladstone and District Rugby League president Peter White

Bowls club manager Peter Liddle said the charges were "unfair" and meant there was no money left over for new projects such as upgrading the bathrooms or the bar area.

"We've been wanting to put in a disabled toilet, but we can't because we're struggling just to pay council rates," Mr Liddle said.

Follow this reporter on Twitter @helenspelitis

Topics:  sewage sporting clubs sporting fields water allocation

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