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Council intentionally sets out to make profits from overcharging on water and sewer

Dear Editor,

In recent articles and comments on the Eurobodalla Shire Council’s recent decision to pass the proposed budgets for 2020/21 including the full allowable 2.6% increase to the general rate and other non-restricted increases to some fees and charges, much has been said about the propositions of council budgeting to make sizeable surpluses (aka “profits”) and having dividends being passed from the sewer and water funds into the general fund. Theses propositions may seem unreasonable at any time but are particularly so in this extremely difficult year following drought, fire and COVID.

A quick look at the budgets and numbers involved showed the extent of these surpluses and the potential for the allowable 50% dividends from the water and sewer funds back into the general fund – see the table below showing figures extracted from pages 76 to 79 of the budget.

Ratepayers should make themselves aware of the magnitude of these details, and more in the full budget documents they come from, approved by councillors at their meeting on 23 June 2020 and then ask those councillors were they aware of the detail and why the budget was passed by five of them without any alteration despite some attempts for fairness towards ratepayers.

Jeff de Jager

Coila Editor's Note: Further reading Along with a rate increase Council increases water, sewer, tip fees and user fees The ‘Best Practice Management of Water Supply and Sewerage Guidelines’ set out these mandatory conditions.

Council must comply with the 6 Best Practice Criteria and demonstrate that it has achieved the outcomes for each of the following:

1. Strategic Business Planning

2. Pricing

3. Water Conservation

4. Drought Management

5. Performance Reporting

6. Integrated Water Cycle Management(IWCM)

To demonstrate compliance with these conditions council must obtain an independent Compliance Audit Report and an independent Financial Audit Report.

Above: Page 99 of the Eurobodalla Shire Council ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENTS for the year ended 30 June 2019 "In accordance with the Department of Industry – Water guidelines a Dividend Payment form, Statement of Compliance, Unqualified Independent Financial Audit Report and Compliance Audit Report are required to be submitted to the Department of Industry – Water." The Beagle has now formally requested that a copy of these reports be provided

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