NEW FUTURE: Close to 200 people attended the Granite Belt Community Association's meeting Tuesday night to discuss their report and all the financial implications of de-amalgamation.
NEW FUTURE: Close to 200 people attended the Granite Belt Community Association's meeting Tuesday night to discuss their report and all the financial implications of de-amalgamation. Matthew Purcell

De-amalgamation 'is viable'

A BREAKAWAY from Southern Downs Regional Council is entirely feasible and financially viable.

That was the primary message hammered home at a community meeting on Tuesday night where attendees were brought up to speed on what's been happening behind the scenes and the nitty gritty of the de-amalgamation business case.

That business case, entitled A New Granite Belt Council, is now in the hands of Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe.

"This document cost you (community) roughly $50,000 by the time we hired the necessary people to write it and make sure it was produced really, really well. The only copies are with the minister, the council and us (Granite Belt Community Association),” association president Alan Colyer told a room of nearly 200 people at the Stanthorpe Exhibition Centre.

"The reason for that is the minister wants to read it, digest it and to think about it as we travel along. He wants to consider without emotion or any difficulty.”

The two most pertinent and frequently asked queries were answered. Is it affordable and will rates rise?

Tasked with figuring out the financial analysis was consultant David Spearritt.

Mr Spearritt has placed a "worst case scenario” approach to the figures and come to an approximate one-off $4 million expense to de-amalgamate.

"David's view is those costs are likely to be much lower... he estimates the actual costs will be closer to $1 million,” Professor Tim Coelli told the meeting.

That sum would be funded from council's cash reserves - of which one third of approximately $50 million could be expected to be transferred to a new council.

"In our assessment there is no need for rate increases to exceed the CPI as a result of de-amalgamation,” Professor Coelli said.

Buoyed by the report, Rev Colyer says it has given them even more gusto to push ahead.

"It is all possible, financially viable, both councils in the black and it can be done and god willing it will be done.

"I'm 95 per cent positive this will come to pass. Come March 2020, may we elect a Granite Belt Regional Council.

"When we hear from the minister, we're closing off Maryland St and we're having a party,” he said.

Southern Downs Regional Council and the minister will now have the final say on whether it goes to the Change Commission.

If given the green light it would then likely go to a plebiscite where residents would be polled.