Gladstone Regional Council's Goondoon St office.
Gladstone Regional Council's Goondoon St office.

DISCOUNT DILEMMA: Project scheme up for review

AN INFRASTRUCTURE charge discount scheme, which aims to get shovels in the ground, has only benefited five projects in the past 12 months.

This week Gladstone Regional Council councillors ordered a review of the Infrastructure Charges Rebate Scheme Policy, which has not been achieving its intended economic benefits.

The policy was adopted in July 2018 to give developers a 50 per cent discount on infrastructure charges for projects, other than residential, in the region's Priority Infrastructure Area.

But 12 months on the scheme, which hoped to attract more dollars and projects to the region, has only been used for five projects.

The projects were charged a combined $141,422.70.

The project that received the largest discount was a nature-based tourism facility at 2546 Round Hill Rd, which was charged $101,075 after the discount.

The policy was up for debate at this week's council meeting at Builyan, with a recommendation to expand the scheme so more projects would be eligible.

With the recommended changes - including expanding beyond the Priority Infrastructure Area and removing the time period of applications lodged in the past two years - 27 projects would be eligible.

But the recommendation was not accepted.

Councillors instead voted for a review of the policy with a report to be handed down in six months.

Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett said councillors also decided to extend the scheme to village areas that did not have a Priority Infrastructure Area - including the Boyne Valley.

Smaller townships were not initially included because they do not have access to all five infrastructure types: water, sewer, roads, stormwater and parks.

Cr Burnett said time would tell if the inclusion of smaller towns would result in more investment in those regions.

"The only decision (councillors) agreed on was to extend it to the outer townships," Cr Burnett said. "Everything else needs to be reviewed."

Cr Burnett hoped the policy would attract aged care and retirement village developments.

"We still need an incentive policy to attract certain types of developments … in particular aged care because we are losing too many people to Bargara and Hervey Bay," he said.

In July 2018 the council said the scheme would put it on a level playing field with neighbouring councils, which also offered discounts.

As of July 2019 Bundaberg council removed its discount charges policy.

The Gladstone Region discount will apply to infrastructure charges up to $1 million, making the maximum discount $500,000.

The discount is offered to development applications lodged after July 1, 2018, and there is a discretion to waive fees on applications already lodged but which have not started construction.

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