It is now five years since Noosa, Livingstone, Mareeba and Douglas Shires officially de-amalgamated in January 2014. Douglas was the most marginal on the QTC analysis at the time of the poll rated very weak (negative) with an estimated $403.92 in annual recurring costs to Douglas ratepayers.
I’m no expert on council budgets and residential ratepayers is an imperfect indicator but the Queensland Treasury Corporation (QTC) analysis doesn’t seem too far out based on the most recent 2018/2019 budget:
Cairns Douglas Premium ($) Premium (%)
Minimum General Rate $886.70 $1,005.00 $118.30 13.3%
Cleansing (garbage) $375.64 $457.98 $82.34 21.9%
Sewerage $784.16 $888.50 $104.34 13.3%
Water Access $264.98 $327.15 $62.17 23.5%
Water /KL $1.19 $1.45 $0.26 21.8%
Total (ex water usage) $2,311.48 $2,678.63 $367.15 15.9%
Water usage is discretionary but when an assumption is included the QTC number looks surprisingly good. Relevant rates and charges here were previously standardised across the Cairns Regional Council as far as I am aware. Of course rates in Cairns could be higher if the amalgamated council still had to carry Douglas. Differences also may reflect differences in policy and priority.
Further reading: De-Amalgamation in Action: The Queensland experience; Qld Councils & the 80/20 rule – 81% of Queenslanders live in just 12 out of 78 LGAs; Council mergers: Did they actually save us money?; BUDGET: Council to spend big on new projects as rates rise by 3.9 per cent; Small business being crippled by price hikes, says former Douglas Shire CEO
Note: there was a land revaluation in Douglas for the current budget while Cairns was deferred to this year. This makes comparison at different land valuations difficult and Douglas is a 2-tier split in median valuations between Port Douglas (inc Craiglie) and the rest of the shire. Will await updated Cairns land valuations in March but doubt this will help any comparison for the residents of Port Douglas.