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Has Council been caught out ripping off ratepayers over inflated water and sewer charges?

Dear Beagle Editor,

Your readers may be interested in the letter I have just penned to ESC’s General Manager.

RATEPAYER RIP OFF? General Manager,

I write to express my concern in regard to council’s Water/Sewer Fund dividend. It appears that council charges for its Water and Sewer services, in such a way that a significant surplus is planned for and expected. This means consumers are being charged more than the cost of delivering the services, which is effectively ‘overcharging’. As I understand it, this ‘surplus’ is termed a ‘dividend’, with half of it going back into the Water/Sewer Fund, and the other half going into the General Fund.  I believe this practice has been ongoing for over 10 years and that it serves to supplement council’s income from Rates, as Rate increases are pegged by the Government. However, it is my understanding that all revenue raised for a stated purpose must only be used for that particular purpose. Should a surplus happen to be derived, then all of that surplus must remain with the stated purpose/service. I believe council’s traditional practice of deliberately planning for a significant surplus from its Water/Sewer Fund as well as paying a proportion into its General Fund, is contrary to legislation. I also believe that such a practice of ‘overcharging’ is not a “fair imposition” on ratepayers. I welcome an explanation as to why council believes it is an acceptable and ethical practice to: * deliberately plan for a significant surplus in its Water/Sewer Fund - ‘overcharge’ * direct half of the surplus from Water/Sewer Fund as a dividend into the General Fund, thereby supplementing its revenue from Rates. Yours Sincerely Patricia Gardiner Deua River Valley

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