Coun­cil moves to ‘user pay’ sys­tem

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

WHIT­SUN­DAY ratepay­ers can ex­pect a big hike in wa­ter charges as the Coun­cil moves more to­wards a “user-pay” sys­tem.

Whit­sun­day Mayor Jennifer Whit­ney, has de­scribed this as a fairer sys­tem and says it is part of a leg­isla­tive re­quire­ment.

Coun­cil’s di­rec­tor of cor­po­rate ser­vices, Gra­ham Jarvis, agrees and says the new pric­ing model is best prac­tice in terms of wa­ter con­ser­va­tion.

How­ever, for­mer mayor Mike Brunker has en­tered into the de­bate, de­scrib­ing the new charges as a “huge cash grab”.

Un­der the new sys­tem, all ratepay­ers will pay a wa­ter ac­cess charge of $496 per year and then pay 84 cents in the dol­lar for the first 365 kilo­litres they con­sume in a year.

Those who use more than 365 kilo­litres (one kl per day), will pay $1.44 for ev­ery kilo­litre over 365 kilo­litres.

Pre­vi­ously, there were dif­fer­ent pric­ing mod­els for the north­ern and south­ern ar­eas of the coun­cil. Cr Whit­ney said this two part tar­iff sys­tem should have been im­ple­mented for the en­tire coun­cil area as soon as the Bowen and Whit­sun­day Coun­cils amal­ga­mated.

Mr Brunker says this is the big­gest change in Bowen in mod­ern rate-pay­ing his­tory and that some Bowen ratepay­ers will be pay­ing twice as much for their wa­ter as they did pre­vi­ously as they had an al­lo­ca­tion of 750kl per year. Cr Whit­ney dis­agrees. “On aver­age, the Bowen ratepay­ers will be pay­ing less of an in­crease than those in the for­mer Whit­sun­day Coun­cil,” she said.

Cr Whit­ney and Mr Jarvis say the new pric­ing model is a fairer sys­tem be­cause the tiers will be the same for all ar­eas of the coun­cil area.

Mr Brunker says it is not fair at all be­cause Bowen re­ceives less rain­fall than Air­lie each year.

He says this is a big change and should never have been con­sid­ered with­out com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion.

“Bowen and Collinsville are clearly dis­ad­van­taged be­cause of the cli­mate dif­fer­ence,” he said.

Mr Jarvis said many of the peo­ple con­cerned about the change were low con­sumers of wa­ter and that some of those would ac­tu­ally see a re­duc­tion in their wa­ter bill.

He said Coun­cil was try­ing to set a wa­ter charge that would re­sult in wa­ter ser­vices pay­ing for them­selves, rather than hav­ing the gen­eral rate sub­si­dis­ing the wa­ter ser­vices.

Mr Jarvis said the new charges would pay for the loan and op­er­at­ing charges of the new wa­ter treat­ment plants.

“Elec­tric­ity alone is set to dou­ble in pow­er­ing the new plants,” he said.

Mr Jarvis said coun­cil would also be im­ple­ment­ing a cam­paign on wa­ter con­ser­va­tion.

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