Recycled water charges reduced in Council’s 2021/22 rates

Following lengthy debate, Council has reduced newly imposed Recycled Water Usage fees to ensure local farmers aren’t unfairly targeted. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

MUCH debate ensued over Coffs Harbour City Council’s rates and charges for the 2021/22 financial year, with councillors arguing over the inclusion of Recycled Water charges for agricultural users.

The annual rates and charges incorporate an increase in Council’s General Income of 2% for 2021/22, being the rate peg approved by IPART.

Beatties FurnitureAdvertise with News of The Area today.
It’s worth it for your business.
Message us.
Phone us – (02) 4981 8882.
Email us – [email protected]

Council had recommended in a report that the Recycled Water Access and Licencing Charge be set at $447 per year, three times the Residential Water Access Charge.

Cr Tegan Swan questioned the rationale behind Council charging three times the access fee for recycled water, and Cr Paul Amos raised concern over local clubs being caught up in the Recycled Water Access charge.

Cr John Arkan called for Council to reduce the fee amounts Council had set for the use of recycled water.

“Up to three times an amount seems rather excessive,” Cr Arkan stated.

Cr Arkan called for Council to change the annual Recycled Water Access and Licensing Charge from $447 per year to $152 per year.

“We don’t want to be penalising people that are using that water, we want to be encouraging the use of that water,” Cr Arkan stated.

“We want to be encouraging people to take up the use of all things.

“There is already an enormous cost to users of that water in infrastructure and running costs.”

Council currently spends around $800,000 a year to supply recycled water to users.

The original fees and charges recommended by Council would recoup between $100,000 and $150,000 of that $800,000 that Council spends annually.

“It’s a minor recoupment,” Council’s Director of Sustainable Infrastructure Mick Raby said.

“At the moment without those fees and charges we recoup nothing.”

Cr Tegan Swan said Council shouldn’t be charging one user group for recycled water access when other user groups are able to access it for free.

“One user group is being charged for everyone else’s access; I just don’t think that’s fair or equitable,” Cr Swan said.

“I think it’s important for us to tread softly and to be fair with this.

“To be encouraging people to access this water I think is very important.”

Cr Paul Amos said he had been “an advocate for not charging this very small group of growers”.

“But certainly I think they still should be penalised if they have an allocation and they go over it,” Cr Amos said.

Changes to the Recycled Water Access fees and charges were approved 5 votes to 1, with Crs John Arkan, Michael Adendorff, Paul Amos, Sally Townley and Tegan Swan voting for the changes and Cr Denise Knight voting against the changes.

Cr Keith Rhoades took no part in the vote due to a conflict of interest, and Cr George Cecato was absent from the meeting.

Council approved an annual Recycled Water Access and Licencing Charge for 2021/22 of $152 per year (equivalent to the Residential Water Access Charge) and a Recycled Water Usage Charge of $2 per kilolitre for excess usage of the allocated supply for all users including non-rateable, non-commercial and sporting bodies.

The base amount of Residential rates was also approved at $419, Business rates at $661, Business (City Centre Business) rates at $661 and Farmland rates at $419.

Council will apply an interest rate of 6% from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022 on overdue rates and charges.

 

By Emma DARBIN

Leave a Reply

Top