CHANGES: Whitsunday Regional Council at the budget meeting this morning at Proserpine.
CHANGES: Whitsunday Regional Council at the budget meeting this morning at Proserpine.

Water changes to flow under budget

WHITSUNDAY residents will soon be given a new choice on how their water is billed under an additional charging system to be introduced by Whitsunday Regional Council.

The move, approved unanimously at today's adoption of the 2016/17 budget, will allow residents to either remain under the current two-part tariff billing system or move to an allocation system.

The allocation system will give residential ratepayers a set allowance of kilolitres with excess consumption charges should they exceed their limit.

Mayor Andrew Willcox said residents would be given more information closer to the system being introduced.

"This council has listened to its residents by offering residential ratepayers this choice in water billing," he said.

"There will be an education program so that eligible residents are fully informed."

Councillor Jan Clifford said during the meeting that she would be seeking a review.

"I support this budget. However, I want to make it very clear that I will be seeking a six-month review over just how effective our water methods are," she said.

Talking after the meeting, Cr Clifford said her concerns were legislatively based.

 "Under the legislation we are supposed to be, under our water business, at full cost recovery," she explained.

"(Under the system we're introducing) I'm not convinced of that, and while I take the word of our officers, I would like six monthly updates on that to see how it's going.

"I don't want us to be in breach of the legislation that says we need to be in full cost recovery."

Cr Clifford said her other major concern was fairness.

"The other thing is that I don't feel it's equitable for ratepayers that do not have access to water to be subsidising those who do," she said.

"Let's see how it pans out. But I will be keeping a very, very close eye on it."

If ratepayers decide to opt out their decision will not be classed as final. They will be given the opportunity to change their minds after the first six months if they choose.

How the water billing systems works:

Two-part tariff (current)

  • Ratepayers are charged on how much water is used.
  • A two pricing component including a water access charge (amount per metre Council charges for access to council's water supply system) and a consumption charge, measured by kiloletres of water passing through a property's water metre and charged on an inclining block tariff.

Allocation system (new)

  • Ratepayers are charged for a set amount of water before excess consumption charges kick in.
  • From September/October, ratepayers may opt in. Those who opt in will have the opportunity each March / April to opt out and revert back to the two-part tariff.
  • Residents who make the move will receive an allowance of 350kl for six months from January to June 2017 for $425. After the first six months, the charges will shift to an annual charge of 700kl a year for $850.

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