Council’s squash row

SQUASHED: Danielle Slade said the Mount Isa squash courts would likely have to close if council does not re-rate the facility as a sporting venue.
SQUASHED: Danielle Slade said the Mount Isa squash courts would likely have to close if council does not re-rate the facility as a sporting venue.

A long running rates dispute over Mount Isa’s squash courts flared up at Wednesday’s council meeting, and threatens to put an end to the sport in the city.

Danielle Slade and husbane Jason Ranie have owned the courts for 10 years, initially as a business and as a not for profit since 2010, however the building continues to be rated higher as a business.

In 2016 she spoke to the state department which advised her the building should not be rated as a business but as a sporting facility and that council could change the category if they so desired.

Ms Slade appeared at a council meeting in August to appeal to bring their rates down in line with other sports in the city and that was followed by a meeting with the Mayor.

“They asked me to put in writing what I wanted and they would take it to a workshop,” she said.

“I was happy thinking they would nut it out there and look at all the pros and cons and make an informed decision.”

However the council passed a motion in September saying the current rateable valuation was correct.

Ms Slade appeared at the first meeting of 2017 to get the background of the September decision.

“I wanted squash to get a fair hearing,” she said.

However when her appeal was cut off due to a time limit, she continued to argue with the Mayor to get answers to her questions.

The Mayor then tried to continue with council business, but Ms Slade continued to argue her case forcing council to adjourn proceedings.

Then the mayor, deputy mayor, CEO and other council officials gathered around her to continue a heated discussion before they finally agreed to hold another meeting at a later date.

Ms Slade said the current situation was unsustainable likely forcing them to sell up, closing down squash and volleyball which is also played in the venue.

On Thursday, the Mayor issued a brief statement saying Council has been working with Ms Slade regarding this issue. “We will continue to meet with her until the issue is resolved,” the Mayor said.