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Community & Business

23 May, 2023

Utilities charges increase for 2023/24

By Andrew Tarry - Local Government Reporter

At the April council meeting, several increases to the charging rates for the water supply, sewer and waste management services were approved by council for the 2023/24 rating year. For these services and utilities, the council has a two-part charging structure of an access charge and usage charge.

For the upcoming 2023/34 rating year these charges will remain in place. In the previous rating year of 2022/23, the council received an estimated revenue of $1,369,488 from the Gilgandra water supply service.

For the upcoming rating period it is proposed by council that the access charge and usage charge will both be raised by five per cent to bring in an estimated revenue of $1,396,229 for 2023/24. This is an increase of $26,741 from 2022/23. The increase is to “achieve the required income under council’s 30-year plan for water and infrastructure and operating costs”. When it comes to the base amount charged and increases in charges of rates for water supply and sewerage, this is outlined in the council’s water supply asset management plan.

In this plan, the implementation of the charges and the pricing are based on best practice guidelines.

“The best practice guidelines set out for the water pricing principles for customers are as follows:

• Pricing must raise enough revenue so that the water supply fund achieves a positive Economic Real Rate of Return (ERRR) in most years over the next 30 years.

• Residential water usage charges must be set to recover at least 75 per cent of residential revenue.

• Access charges are to be based on the square of the diameter of the water service connection.

• Local Water Utilities (LWUs) must bill at least three times each year (and preferably every quarter).

• No land value based charges (i.e. rates)

• No “free” or “pre-paid” water allowance.”

The Tooraweenah water supply service will also see an increase of five per cent from the previous rating year. In 2022/23 the total estimated revenue for the service was $32,881. In the upcoming year it is estimated to be $34, 081; an increase of $1015.

According to the council meeting minutes, “water usage is a variable factor and water income will increase more if water usage increases” and “the water usage charge is based on production costs and any variation from the estimate will be compensated for by respective increased or decreased production costs”.

In conjunction to the rises in the charging rates for water supply, the sewer charge is also being increased. It was approved that a seven per cent increase be implemented for both the usage and access charges. The implementation of a seven per cent increase will see an estimated revenue jump of $110, 679 for the 2023/24 rating year. Storm water charges in Gilgandra for 2023/24 will remain the same however, with the $25 assessment charge carrying over.

This is the same for the rural waste charges with the current charge of $22 per assessment being used for 2023/24. The charges for domestic waste services and other waste services will be increased compared to the previous year. Both services will receive a two per cent increase compared to the 2022/23 rating year.

For the domestic waste service this will raise an estimated $526, 992 in income for the 2023/23 year, while other waste services will raise $127, 032. All charges raised “will not exceed the reasonable cost of providing such services” according to the council.

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