NOT ON: Council objects to what they see as a cash grab.
NOT ON: Council objects to what they see as a cash grab. Contributed

Noosa Council wants a fairer utility deal

A NOOSA councillor has produced a Monopoly game board during council debate as a colourful prop to support the push to get a fairer deal when it comes to determining who picks up the bill for the costly shifting of utility infrastructure in our streets.

According to a council report, delays in carrying out the Hilton Tce corridor project in Tewantin has incurred $1.1 million in costs associated with the relocation of 100m of underground electricity lines.

Noosa wants to upgrade traffic flows at this traffic bottleneck with the construction of a roundabout.

Cr Brian Stockwell said the electricity company in question was "holding the chance card” as used in the Monopoly game.

"The chance card tells you, if the utility is owned, throw the dice and pay the owner 10 times the amount owned,” he said.

"That's what they're doing, they saying here's what it really costs.”

And Cr Stockwell said that turned out to be "two or three times” more than the standard cost for works.

Cr Frank Pardon said trying to deal with the utility owners to date was "a disaster”.

"We're trying to build a roundabout,” he said.

"These costs have pushed the roundabout, which we budgeted for ... and most roundabouts are about $500,000 these days.

"But those prices, when it comes to virtually almost trebling a roundabout price, it's a lesson learnt for us in council.

"It's a blatant rip-off, that's what it is,” Cr Pardon said.

A report to council said: "While council has attempted to mitigate the impacts, it is largely at the mercy of the utility companies with regards to costs and timing of required works," the report said.

"Currently the only input local governments have into the utility relocations process is to apply for consideration and await for the utility owner's determination."

Frustrated councillors are recommending Noosa Council submit a motion to the Local Government Association of Queensland annual conference to lobby the State Government and public utility infrastructure owners for the development of a more equitable cost sharing protocol.

At the ordinary council meeting they unanimously voted to request the LGAQ seek a "development of a protocol that ensures equity and efficacy in the relocation or replacement of utility infrastructure arising from local government works”.

The council wants to establish "a framework to achieve arrangements for mutually agreed delivery time frames, appropriate and equitable apportioning of costs based on the remaining life of the asset and for any capacity upgrade costs to be borne by the relevant utility not the local government.

Noosa's concerns at state level include water and power utility relocations, but also applies federally when it comes to telecommunication shifts.

"Council's design and delivery teams endeavour to develop engineering designs that avoid known utility locations to mitigate the probable costs associated with relocating them," the report said.

"However, this can impact on the quality of the final product and ultimately public amenity."

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