Mayor calls for early decision as QCA final report elevates water woes

Redland City Mayor, Karen Williams has called on the State Government to make their bulk water price decision by mid-May after the release of the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) Final Report which imposes even higher water costs on Councils and their ratepayers.

“We’re in budget mode now and need to understand the financial impact of the State’s decision on local budgets for the next financial year commencing in July.

“Redland City Council has done its best to minimise the overall increase in these water prices on our customers by keeping its retail charges constant since 2015-2016, but it’s just not sustainable,” Cr Williams said.

“Bulk water cost is a significant portion of the total operating expenditure of Council, and it has increased from 7% in 2012-13 to a projected 12% by the end of the 2017-18 financial year.

“Our Redlands residents have already endured annual price increases of 16.61%, 14.27%, 10.19%, 9.20% and 8.47% respectively since the 2013/14 financial year.”

“Now we find this QCA Final Report pitches future charges even higher than what was included in their draft report.

“In addition, the QCA dollar increases included in the final report are somewhat confusing as they are based on 160kl consumption when Redland consumers have average consumption of 192kl.

“Based on the higher average water usage in the Redlands, the estimated increase to consumers from the final report will be in the order of $35.90 per annum as opposed to $29.92 from the draft report, which was based on an average usage of 160kl.”

“While the cost per kilolitre has increased from the draft QCA report, Council’s preference continues to be Price Path 2 as outlined in our submission to the QCA.This option smooths the impact of the total price increase for Redlands households over the next 3 years, minimising year-on-year increases to 7.30% or lower.

“Council also understands this option pushes back the year of the common price from 19-20 to 20-21, which would also help reduce the financial burden.

“Under the QCA’s Price Path 2 our customers will need to find a further 7.30%, 6.80% and 6.37% respectively over the next three years, amounting to a total increase over three years of $107.70 based on average consumption of 192KL per year.

“So far the added total burden to Redland City budgets and ratepayers has been in the vicinity of $131M between 1 July 2012 until 30 June 2017 as a result of State Government bulk water price increases, and a further $35M has been budgeted in this financial year.

“If there’s any good news here, it is that QCA have indicated that bulk water price increases after 2020-21 will match inflation, but by that stage our residents will be feeling the pain at the tap.

Cr Williams said she would write to the State Government to express her concern at the continued bulk water price hikes.