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Bega: ‘Choose your own bill’ exercise to help future water and sewerage plan

A new long-term strategic plan to improve Bega Valley Shire Council’s water and sewerage services is being drafted with help from the community.

Expanding on last year’s online and telephone surveys, a second engagement round will start in April to identify if acceptable savings can be made by adjusting service levels.

“This second round will use a fairly unique method to establish the value of the services we offer,” Water and Sewerage Services Manager, Chris Best said.

“Instead of providing an information-heavy report detailing the value of everything we do, we’re asking people to have a think about what their ideal Water and Sewerage bill looks like.

“We’ll provide a range of mock bills itemised with different services and participants get to choose their own bill based on the cost and services they want the most.

“This exercise will in no way change the way people are currently billed, but it will give us important insight into what the community sees as a priority.

“We’re aware it’s not just us looking for answers, so we’re also planning face-to-face community and business forums where questions can be asked relating to the services we offer.

“An open conversation about areas requiring greater investment and services that can be reimagined or reduced, is a vital next step in developing our long-term strategy.”

Mr Best said establishing a comprehensive picture of community priorities will help to cost any potential improvements and savings and seek funding from external sources.

“For example, the Brogo Water Treatment Plant currently being constructed was made possible by funding from the NSW Government’s Safe and Secure Water Program. It was initiated by an urgent community need for clean water after a bushfire damaged the drinking water catchment,” Mr Best said.

“We will use the community’s feedback from this and previous engagements to help us build a first draft of a strategic business plan outlining the next 10 years of investment.

“When complete, the strategy will be presented to Councillors for discussion before inviting further community feedback during a public exhibition period.”

A community forum scheduled for May will be held at the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre. Confirmation of date and time will be advertised closer to the date.

Engagements with local business owners and key stakeholders are also being arranged. To express an interest in being part of the business and stakeholder engagements, call (02) 6499 2222, or email council@begavalley.nsw.gov.au with the subject ‘Water strategy’.

Find the ‘choose your own bill’ online survey at https://www.communitiesthrive.com.au/bvsc/

Above: The Brogo water treatment plant came about from community need.

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