COUNCIL MEETING: Healthy Harbour report will have surprises

IT LOOKS like a slow start to the year for Gladstone Regional Council with only a few items on the agenda for the first meeting of 2016.

But that doesn't mean it's going to be a dull.

Three of the more interesting items include a formal request for the return of dividends from Gladstone Area Water Board to the council --- worth more than $15 million a year, funding approval for Miriam Vale's Gary Larson Oval's new lights following three rejections, and a decision to return two board members to Gladstone Airport instead of replacing them with councillors.

Council meetings, held at the council chambers on Goondoon St, are open to the public and start at 9am.

You can follow the meeting here live and you can join the conversation using the hashtag #helendoescouncil.

1. Fourth time lucky

Owen Harms is hopeful he has secured funding to replace lighting at Gary Larson Oval which he pleaded with the council for last year.

Following Mr Harms' passionate presentation to councillors in November, 'out of round' funding requests were invited to allocate the $21,000 left over from 2015.

Note: Video taken in November 2015 during a council meeting

Mr Harms' request had already been denied three times; once in 2014 and twice in 2015 including his plea in November. But now the council has changed its tune.

Officers have rejected two other applications --- one from Lowmead Social Cricket and Sporting Club for $4500, and Central Queensland Motorsports Benaraby for $44,000 --- in favour of Gary Larson Oval Enhancement Group's bid.

If the councillors agree with the officers' recommendation tomorrow, Gary Larson Oval Enhancement Group will have the $44,000 they need, after raising $23,000 on their own.

2. Flow of cash could come back

Water and sewerage connection charges will increase from $657 this year to $865 in 2019 if the water dividends from Gladstone Area Water Board aren't returned to the council.

In 2013 the LNP State Government introduced a policy stopping the dividends flowing to the council; an estimated loss of more than $28.3 million in the past two financial years alone.

But that policy is being reviewed this year and the council has made it clear they want the money back.

Tomorrow they will agree to send Minister for Energy and Water Supply Mark Bailey a letter penned by Mayor Gail Sellers asking for the money to be returned to ease pressure on residents facing rising fees and charges.

Since 2013 sewerage connection charges have risen from $553 to $657.

Read her letter in full here.

3. No fresh blood on airport board

Two of the six positions on the Gladstone Airport Board are up for renewal and it seems we will be welcoming back the same old faces.

Contracts for Brad Bowes, a businessman with 18 years' experience in airport management, and Liz Baker, a lawyer with a background in pharmaceuticals and banking, expire on June 30.

But both are looking to keep their positions worth more than $20,000 a year and tomorrow the council is expected to approve them for another three-year term.

Council officers did consider replacing these positions with councillors, but that was seen as diminishing the board's independence.

Click here for a full description of the board members.

The chairperson is paid about $40,000, deputy chair $30,000 and $20,000 a piece to each of the four remaining board members.

Read the full agenda for Tuesday's meeting here

Follow this reporter on Twitter @helenspelitis

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