CHAMPAGNE TIME: De-amalgmation spearhead Noel Playford celebrates victory last year.
CHAMPAGNE TIME: De-amalgmation spearhead Noel Playford celebrates victory last year.

Noosa gets split cost wrong by $8m

NOOSA Shire Council's claims that de-amalgamation cost it just $2.23 million appear to have been exposed as inaccurate.

The real figure is likely to be at least $10.2 million.

The revelation comes as the fledgling council demands another $20 million cash transfer from Sunshine Coast Regional Council, on top of more than $40 million it has already been given.

The true cost of Noosa's split from the regional council was revealed during a pub

lic briefing of the State Government's Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee on April 2.

Patrick Flemming, director, Local Government, Queensland Audit Office, told the committee Noosa Council had deferred $6.5 million in expenses until after the December 31, 2013 cut-off for reporting of de-amalgamation costs.

"There are still going to be a number of de-amalgamation costs incurred subsequent to 31 December, but our cut-off for this report was that 31 December date," he said in the report.

"In the department's (of local government) response to our report, they identify that about $6.5 million in de-amalgamation costs relating to Noosa have subsequently been incurred.

"While the final quantum of the de-amalgamation costs will be up to the budgetary decisions of the various councils involved, there is a fair number of costs still to be incurred."

A 2013-14 report from the Queensland Audit Office indicates another $1.5 million in IT costs was deferred to January 2014 by Noosa Council, pushing the total cost of de-amalgamation to at least $10.2 million.

Before last year's de-amalgamation vote, Queensland Treasury Corporation warned Noosa ratepayers would face a $13 million bill and a rate rise of about $260 a year.

Mr Playford and his supporters were adamant it could be achieved for far less and spare ratepayers a rate rise.

Local Government Minister David Crisafulli provided only a brief response to a detailed set of questions presented by the Daily.

"What is important to residents is not when the final castings for de-amalgamation are in, but that they are fair and accurate," he said.

"I have consistently said all costs for de-amalgamation would be the responsibility of the Noosa Shire Council whose residents were given the right to vote on their future leadership.

"This remains the case."

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said it was not his role to speculate on whether Noosa council officials had been deceptive in their reporting of the de-amalgamation costs.

It was the responsibility of Noosa residents to ask questions of their council.

"My objective during the de-amalgamation process was to ensure people understood what the cost was going to be," Mr Jamieson said.

"Clearly these true costs did not come out before December 31."


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