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It seems that you can't compare water with water

At Council's meeting on Tuesday May 9th the draft Delivery Program 2017-21 and Operational Plan 2017-18 came up in the agenda. While the country was watching the TV and listening to the radio to discover how their wallets would fare under the Federal Budget the Eurobodalla Council were endorsing the mechanisms to apply rates and fee creep as well. Most likely, if you are a ratepayer in Eurobodalla your wallet suffered far more at a local level than it did federally and all whilst you weren't looking. The Eurobodalla Council Delivery Program 2017-21 and Operational Plan 2017-18 outlines the four year activities and annual actions Council will undertake to contribute to achieving the community’s vision. Each service that assists in achieving the outcome is identified. Measures to track and report on progress in achieving each activity is also provided. The document also includes Council’s financial information that supports the Delivery Program2017-21 and Operational Plan 2017-18, including the budgets, capital program, revenue policy and the draft 2017-18 Fees and Charges Proposed changes include: -The general rate increases by 6.5%. Council was successful in 2015-16 in applying for a Rate Variation of 6.5% including the rate peg amount for three consecutive years. 2017-18 will be the final year of the variation. The rate variation component is projected to collect an additional $2.75 million of rating revenue and contributes to funding the Community Infrastructure and Transport program. - The environment fund rate increases by 2.4%. - The waste collection charges increases by 1.5% for the typical household. - The average water charges (where applicable) increase by 2.8%. The access charge increases by 5.1% to $309 (20mm connection access charge) and the usage charge increases by 0.9% to $3.55 per kilolitre. Water charges are determined taking into account the NSW Best Practice Pricing Guidelines. - The sewer access charge increases by 3.1% to $930 (20mm connection access charge) and the usage charge increases by 2.8% to $1.78 per kilolitre. Council’s proposed Fees and Charges for 2017-18 (not including statutory fees) have generally been increased by the Local Government Cost Index of 1.8%. So more money spent on rates, garbage, environment and sewer as well as bumped up costs to play tennis, netball, to swim or even hold a community meeting in a hall. Councillor Constable wasn't prepared to just sit this one out without comment calling on Director of Infrastructure, Warren Sharpe to answer some questions of concern. "I can't let this matter go unsaid. I am concerned with the significantly increased water rates compared to adjacent shires" Councillor Constable continued saying that the increases were counter productive to industry such as milk and cheese producers and also placed a burden on those with fixed incomes who could least afford the increases. he noted that if they weren't ratepayers then as renters they would also share the increases. "Every charge impacts on the community" In response Warren Sharpe, Director of Infrastructure advised that water charging has to comply with a State Standard. Those who live in the shire all year round have to pay for the service that is required and produced at peak times. He continued with the fact that to the north Shoalhaven has a much larger population (240%) and a shorter network therefore running costs are distributed over a wider base. To add to this Shoalhaven has a larger (by 340%) industry base and that base subsidises domestic usage. In the south Bega Shire has untreated water supplies. As that shire moves to water treatment those costs will have to be met and water rates will rise accordingly. In response to Councillor Constables concerns of water rates being counter productive to existing and future industry in Eurobodalla he was assured that there are generous larger user discounts available. Mr Sharpe advised that water was a business and had to comply with standards. He then provided information about the proposed Southern storage dame saying that it is now 30% through its design stages. critical to the dam will be government funding and Council must continue to advocate. As it is the dam will be bought forward by 8 years. Councillor Brown decided to add his sagely advice offering that if Council didn't follow standards then it wouldn't comply and wouldn't be able to ask for funding. "We have funding because we have compliance." The Mayor, Liz Innes, added that it was commendable that during recent periods of drought the Shire had no water restrictions which gave evidence of the Shire's existing water security. The draft Delivery Program 2017-21 and Operational Plan 2017-18 will now be publicly exhibited for 28 days. The community are invited to have their say on the draft plans during the exhibition period and make a submission. At the end of the public exhibition period Council will be advised of any submissions received and the draft Delivery Program 2017-21 and Operational Plan 2017-18 will be presented to Council for consideration to adopt prior to 30 June 2017.

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