Penalty query Keen eye on water review
STATE and federal governments are watching and waiting on Townsv i l l e C i t y C o u n c i l ’ s plans to introduce new water pricing arrangements.
Both bodies, however, refused to be drawn on whether the council and ratepayers faced penalties for moving back to a fixed charge system.
The prospect of penalties was a reason Mayor Les Tyrell had stalled for months on changes to the council’s contentious two-part tariff system introduced last year amid widespread community protest.
The council this week decided to act, announcing it would revert to its previous dual charging system option for residents of a fixed price for an allocation or a twopart tariff, including an a c c e s s a n d u s a g e charge.
S t a t e E n e r g y a n d Water Utilities Minister Stephen Robertson said t he d e c i s i o n b y t he council to allow ratepayers to revert to the previous system was a ‘‘ fantastic result’’ for residents.
A spokesman for Local Government Minister Paul Lucas said Premier Anna Bligh’s announcement last year that the council could revert to its former pricing system superseded a 2008 condition applied t o s t a t e g r a n t s w o r t h $ 33 million for the council to implement best practice water pricing including consumptionbased pricing.
A spokesman for federal Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water Senator Don Farrell said nearly $ 40 million in federal funding approved by the former Howard government in 2 0 0 6 h a d b e e n c o n - ditional on the council providing the government with a best practice water pricing implementation plan, consistent with the Nationa l Wa t e r I n i t i a t i v e pricing principles.
‘‘ The purpose of best practice pricing is to encourage efficient water use,’’ the spokesman said.
‘ ‘ T w o - p a r t t a r i f f s should be used unless this is demonstrated not to be cost effective.’’
The spokesman said t he Federal Governm e n t e x t e n d e d t h e timeline for provision of the pricing implementation plan to June 30, 2 0 1 0 , as a r esult of changes to the scope of the council’s projects w h i c h w e r e b e i n g funded.
‘ ‘ T h e p r i c i n g i m - p l e m e n t a t i o n p l a n should outline council’s approach to adopting best practice pricing and the timetable for a c hi e v i ng t hi s , ’ ’ t he spokesman said.
‘‘ Council has not met this requirement of the funding agreement.’’