Cr Murray Elliott calls for citizen jury on funding options for Southern Moreton Bay Island infrastructure

CITIZEN JURY: Cr Murray Elliott says there needs to be a conversation about who pays for what on the islands.
CITIZEN JURY: Cr Murray Elliott says there needs to be a conversation about who pays for what on the islands.

A REDLAND City councillor says a community advisory panel should investigate how to fund infrastructure on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands.

Cr Murray Elliott has called for a citizen jury similar to the 40-member panel used to determine how to manage and fund revetment wall and waterway maintenance at Raby Bay, Aquatic Paradise and Sovereign Waters estates.

"We need to have a conversation about who pays for what on the islands," Cr Elliott said. "It is about being fair about who pays."

It comes as the council could be faced with a $500 million bill for a waste treatment plant on the islands. The council agreed last month to update a 2011 report on the SMBI wastewater system and investigate reticulated sewerage options.

A possible outcome of the citizen process could see bay island property owners charged rates based on a specific category like canal estate land owners who pay a portion of revetment walls repairs through their rates.

Cr Elliott said the council would be struggling for years to come by trying to fund island infrastructure.

Cr Lance Hewlett said that on the mainland, the council received almost $29,000 in infrastructure charges per subdivided lot but that did not apply to the islands as they were subdivided without an infrastructure charge regime in place.

He said that a $500 million bill would equate to about $50,000 per building allotment on the islands.

"That's an enormous impost on council and in my opinion not possible without state and/or federal funding assistance," Cr Hewlett said.

Cr Wendy Boglary said a holistic approach taking into account all requirements was needed to secure the sustainability of island lifestyles.

She said the bay islands were transferred to the council from the state government without necessary infrastructure like roads, water and sewerage.

"Forty years on, millions spent and there is still an extreme deficit in many areas," Cr Boglary said. "Thirteen million has been spent on green sealing the roads in the past six years, another $14 million is proposed for jetty works and the list continues."

Cr Mark Edwards said a study into wastewater systems on the bay islands produced by the council in 2011 had found a centralised reticulated sewerage network was a potential solution to manage domestic wastewater.

"The study identified the density of dwellings was the key risk and that public health risks and negative environmental impacts could result when recommended densities were exceeded," Cr Edwards said.

"We are continuing to see rapid population growth on the islands. I am concerned that as density grows, so too does the need for council to consider onsite wastewater options, including reticulated sewerage for the SMBI."

Cr Edwards said that sewerage options were a start but the council needed to look broadly and ascertain if the community wanted greater development, and what that would require in terms of infrastructure.

"This motion (for a wastewater study) allows up to one year for officers to holistically review and study what has happened, where we are headed and what options are on the table," he said. "Council needs to understand what we are faced with, what needs to be done and how to plan the delivery of a solution in a financially affordable timeframe."

"This body of work will then be brought back to the community, who will be asked to tell us exactly what they want the future of the islands to look like."

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