Water decision to benefit Coast ratepayers
  • Wednesday 29 June 2011

Sunshine Coast Council today announced it would continue with the new water authority, Unitywater, as the preferred model for providing water and sewerage services in the region.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Bob Abbot said the option offered by the State Government for council to take back the water business did not include bulk water, doesn’t reinstate the 40% subsidy and will not reduce water charges.

"The State Government was willing to allow council to take back our water distribution business, but at such a cost that ratepayers would have been significantly footing the bill for many years to come.

"Quite simply, as much as we would like to, we cannot get water back in the same way that we once had it."

Cr Abbot said minimising the financial impact on ratepayers was a key consideration in council’s decision not to withdraw from Unitywater.

"The process and costs of dismantling the recently established water business and then rebuilding another one are significant and this would have placed too much pressure on Coast ratepayers," Cr Abbot said.

"The State Government’s direction that disestablishment costs and consequential costs would be funded by the withdrawing council simply makes changing the current arrangements not viable for council and our community.

"Council can not expect its ratepayers to pay these up front costs that could be in excess of $50 million – the impact on ratepayers and families would be too great."

Finance and Business portfolio councillor Chris Thompson said council has carefully considered its options in the wake of the State Government’s announcement to cap water prices and change its own water reform model.

"Since the State Government’s water reform announcement earlier this year, Council has undertaken a thorough review of the options and implications in changing the current water arrangements," Cr Thompson said.

"The Unitywater Decision Report, which has been independently reviewed by one of the big four accounting firms, clearly shows that maintaining the current arrangements with Unitywater would provide the best financial return for council and at the lowest risk."

Cr Thompson added that the State Government has still made no commitment to lower bulk water charges and this means that council’s ability to reduce costs for our community are limited.

"The State Government still owns and operates the bulk water and the final retail price will be subject to any decisions they make on the bulk water price," Cr Thompson said.

"The recently released price increases for Sunshine Coast consumers for 2011/12 show the average water bill will increase by $88 – of this, $54 is related to State Government’s bulk water increases and $32 is due to the water provider increases."