The cost of having a jetty licence on Lake Mulwala is expected to double this year frustrating local residents.
River Road resident Ilba Prosser, who has lived at her property for more than 30 years, has seen her annual jetty licence fee continually rise from around $50 in the 1980s to just over the current $300 this financial year.
But after enquiring about the cost for the upcoming financial year with Goulburn Murray Water Mrs Prosser was shocked to find out that it is set to more than double to a figure somewhere between $600 and $700.
“I have been concerned for some time about the rising costs for jetty licences but to find it is going to double is alarming,” Mrs Prosser said.
Goulburn Murray Water oversees more than 400 jetty licences on Lake Mulwala and the Murray River around Bundalong.
The amount of these jetties significantly grew when Lake Mulwala was last lowered in 2016 and a moratorium on the construction of jetties was lifted. This created a boost to the economy with a large number of jetties and retaining walls constructed during the time the lake was lowered. The lake is expected to be lowered again this year no doubt bringing with it more plans for new jetties.
In a letter responding to Mrs Prosser’s concerns about licence fees, dated November 15, 2017, Goulburn Murray Water’s Property Service Manager, Sharon Clement responded; “GMW is faced with costs to manage and administer licences of private structures such as jetties which are built on GMW freehold or crown land”.
The letter went on to say; “as an explanation some of the costs GMW incurs relate to rates and taxes which GMW are liable to pay and regular inspections ensuring the privately owned structures on GMW land are not compromising our environment and operational obligations as the land manager. We must ensure the costs to manage this area are not subsidised by our irrigation customers.”
Ms Clement also mentioned that as a result of a recent review a new licence from July 1 will be issued to jetty licence customers with an increased fee for a longer term of 10 years. A letter is to be sent to all licence holders regarding this in “early 2018”.
When Mrs Prosser enquired further about the actual fee rise she was told it would be in the vicinity of $600 to $700.
“Ït is the principal of the matter. How can they just double the licence fee?” Mrs Prosser questioned.
Nationals Member for Ovens Valley, Tim McCurdy raised the licence fee concern in Parliament last Wednesday asking for an explanation from Victorian Minister for Water Lisa Neville.
“It appears that Goulburn Murray Water is about to double jetty licenses in this region,” Mr McCurdy said.
“Increases over recent years have been in line with CPI, but I have been informed of some jetty licenses increasing in excess of 100 per cent this year.
“With over 400 jetty licenses in this region, please tell me this is not just another cash grab by the city-centric Andrews Labor government.
“Some of the people who have contacted me are elderly with limited capacity to pay for such massive and unexpected increases in charges.
“I seek immediate clarity on the proposed jetty charge increases from the minister.”
Mr McCurdy called on Minister Neville to visit Yarrawonga and explain the increased charges in a community meeting.
Local jetty licence holders are still yet to receive a letter from GMW in regards to the changes to their licences.