QPRC borrows millions, construction runoff pollutes river, council satisfaction — what got tick and what didn’t.
Council to borrow $50 million
Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) is seeking approval from the NSW Government to borrow $50.4 million from Treasury, with an estimated interest bill of $22 million.
The loan would be drawn down from January 2019 and repaid in January 2039.
Borrowings are to be used for capital projects the council has already approved:
- $36m – Ellerton Drive Extension (EDE), loan to developers.
- $7.750m – from previous year’s commitments for the indoor sports centre; Braidwood waste transfer station; and land to build a cemetery on Old Cooma Rd.
- $5.4m – local roads renewal program.
- $1m – Burra S bends project.
- $0.250m – South Bungendore drainage.
Googong township developers liable for the EDE loan are requesting repayment five years’ earlier than the original agreement, which the council said could allow the Treasury borrowings to be repaid sooner. The developers are also liable for interest payments on the $36 million loan.
10 year financial plan — water, sewer fees to go up
Council also waved through a 10-year financial plan without public feedback at its November 2018 meeting. The plan envisages increasing water and sewer fees by way of introducing a ‘dividend’ from these funds which are not captured by the post-merger rates freeze to September 2020.
‘Revised user charges’ were also mentioned — which means these will go up, too, but by how much is unknown. A special rate variation should not be needed under the option QPRC endorsed, according to the staff report to council.
Cr Peter Marshall (Greens) attempted unsuccessfully to have the plan released for public comment, as the staff report stated was required. He and Cr Pete Harrison voted against the proposed long-term financial plan and sending it to the NSW Government to consider.
Queanbeyan River suffers a mud event
A major rain event in mid-December 2018 brought heavy downfalls to the capital district. While agricultural producers and gardeners welcomed the rain, it caused problems for the Queanbeyan River and its wildlife. Water turned the colour of coffee as the river filled with silt.
Residents reported seeing mud flow off the Ellerton Drive Extension (EDE) construction zone into the River on Friday, December 14. A complaint to the Environment Protection Agency’s pollution hotline elicited the terse response that there would be no consequences for the construction company or the contract manager, Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).
Apparently, whoever assessed the scale of retention basins for the construction zone didn’t anticipate such a heavy downpour — even though they are becoming increasingly common as climate change bites.
This means the builders and RMS are in the clear; no licence breach; no consequences, except for the wildlife that relies on the river.
Residents who monitor water quality further upstream also reported run-off from Googong township where building continues apace.
It’s yet to be seen how, or whether, QPRC will respond to both causes of the poor water quality.
New admin building hits speed bump
It appears the contractor hired to demolish QPRC’s old administration building in Queanbeyan has had trouble completing the job. Work was originally expected to be completed by the end of December 2018.
In a confidential item at the November 28 meeting, QPRC resolved to hire another contractor “as quickly as possible”. The cause of the work stoppage is unknown but the project is already behind schedule owing to the delays in pursuing and them dumping plans for a new HQ behind the Queanbeyan theatre.
There was no information about when the demolition might be completed.
Community views sought on establishing tool libraries
Would you borrow tools from a public library in the way you borrow books, CDs, DVDs and toys? QPRC wants to know.
Tool libraries have been operating in Australia for more than a decade, well before the current development of the ‘sharing economy’. They allow people to borrow items they might only use occasionally rather than having to outlay money (in some cases large sums) to have tools sitting idle most of the time at home.
The idea of tool libraries for Queanbeyan-Palerang emerged from the city’s Environment and Sustainability Advisory Committee. Staff will prepare a report to council following the consultation.
Council satisfaction survey – the good and not so good
QPRC is pretty chuffed about the results of its most recent annual customer satisfaction survey conducted by Jetty Research. Mayor Tim Overall was spruiking the endorsement of 56 percent of the 600 people questioned in the first post-merger survey, conducted in September 2018.
Council’s strengths were seen as bridges, clean public spaces; parks, reserves and playgrounds; waste and recycling; and water supply and sewage treatment.
People were less impressed about the council’s provision of community services, protecting and monitoring the health of the local environmental, and sealed roads.
Council voted at its November 28 meeting to change the way the survey is conducted in future.