Redland City Council will be opening a community conversation with residents about how it maintains and repairs revetment walls in residential canals.
It follows a Council decision to temporarily end the special charges levied on canal and lake-front homeowners while it develops a new strategy and also to refund unspent money quarantined for canal maintenance and repairs since 2011-12.
The decision affects property owners at Raby Bay, Aquatic Paradise and Sovereign Waters.
Redland City Council CEO Bill Lyon said the decision followed a Council review which raised questions about the way canal special charges had been levied since 2011-12.
“Following this review we believe it is only proper that we take this course of action,’’ Mr Lyon said.
“This is the result of a technical drafting error and once it was detected Council has moved quickly and proactively to rectify it for affected residents.
“Council has received no direction to take this action – we are doing it as a proactive step and to maintain our standard of accountability.
“We recognise property owners will have questions – there is still an important process to go through before we can answer all of these questions. We have engaged an independent accountant to ensure this work is a priority and we appreciate residents’ patience while this is done.
“Council agreed that it was appropriate to remove these special charges immediately and to return unspent money collected for canal maintenance and revetment wall repairs since 2011-12 so we can speak with the community and review processes and options for the ongoing maintenance of canals and repairs to revetment walls.
“Our action highlights that Council is open and transparent and we are investing a great deal of time to ensure we get this right.
“It is important to note that this decision does not affect services or funding for other areas of the city, as the money being refunded was collected from canal homeowners and quarantined specifically for work on canals, such as dredging, cleaning and, at Raby Bay, repairs to revetment walls.”
Mr Lyon said the process for issuing refunds was now being worked through with independent accountants, with the number of refunds, amounts and method of refunds to be determined.
Currently there is approximately $9 million in the canal reserve, of which 20-30% was contributed by Council and which will not be subject to refunds.
About 1200 properties are affected.
Mr Lyon said Council will be talking with residents about the refund process, as well as future arrangements for canal maintenance and revetment wall repairs.
“But we ask for patience while we work through this important process. We want to ensure it is done properly and the refunds get to the property owners who paid them and some properties may have had several owners in that time,” he said.
Mr Lyon said that Council would ensure that maintenance of canals and the lake would continue and that a special charge may be introduced in 2017-18 dependent on Council budget deliberations and a Council resolution.
“Council will also complete all revetment wall repair work scheduled to occur in 2016-17 and 2017-18. A special charge for this may also be introduced dependent on budget deliberations and a future Council resolution.
“Council is committed to ensuring that works go ahead for residents who are expecting scheduled work to be done.
“In the meantime, Council and the community have an opportunity to revisit the issue of canal maintenance and revetment wall repairs and to develop an appropriate strategy. However, Council maintains its position that the maintenance of our canals should be predominantly funded by those who own property on them.’’
Mr Lyon said a review of the city’s other special benefit levies showed they met all requirements.
More information including a fact sheet and questions and answers sheet are available on the Redland City Council website.
If residents or property owners have questions they should contact Council in writing at firstname.lastname@example.org or to P.O. Box 21 Cleveland 4163 or call 3829 8999.