Ratepayers pick up cost of private developments

GLADSTONE ratepayers are carrying the can for a shortfall in the cost of residential development because of a cap placed on development contributions by the State Government.

Normal council accounts - funded by ratepayers' rates - are covering the shortfall; up to $10,000 per allotment each time a new private development is connected to infrastructure.

That is, according to Gladstone Regional Council chief financial officer Mark Holmes, who claims infrastructure charges are his council's biggest expense.

The cost of connecting infrastructure could be between $30,000-$40,000 per allotment.

But previous state governments legislated to cap the maximum amount local governments could charge developers for infrastructure at $28,000.

Mr Holmes said increases to fees and charges on rates notices had been largely due to this gap.

"We can fund the difference through utility charges, which means the ratepayer wears the cost, reduce service levels (for example, lower water pressure and increase road congestion), or we can change legislation."

The issue has already been raised with both the state Labor and LNP governments.

New Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher has pledged to push the issue with the minister, to make sure both ratepayers and developers aren't forking out more than their share.

"There are always two sides to the story and I want to make sure developers still come to town to give people the option of buying cheaper land," Mr Butcher said.

"But we also need to make sure ratepayers aren't wearing the cost.

"We need to get developers to pay a bit more (for infrastructure) and get the council to do more work within the department to bring the cost down."

The issue of capping fees for infrastructure was raised by the Gladstone Regional Council at the last LGAQ conference in Mackay.

The council sought: the reinstatement of State Government funding programs for local government infrastructure that aren't conditional on council subsidising new property development.

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