Water plan to change

After much debate, the Maniototo Community Board passed a resolution to change the way ratepayers on town water supplies in the ward will pay for their water, with only three of the five members in favour.

Ratepayers are at present charged for their water use in an amount included in their rates, and given an allocation of water. Under the new system, they will still be charged a base rate, or annual uniform charge, to cover the cost of the connection but will also be charged for the volume of water they use, similar to how electricity companies charge for power.

The base rate is proposed to be set at $431.34 for Ranfurly, down from the current charge of $552, and $510.86 for Naseby, down from $618.

Ratepayers will then pay an additional 75c per cubic metre of water used.

Central Otago District Council water services manager Russell Bond said the average water use per year in the Maniototo was 460 cubic metres per connection, meaning the new charges could end up costing ratepayers an additional $345 per year on top of the base rate.

Board members raised issue with the cost and said it was too high in light of upcoming bills for the likes of the water treatment upgrade, that it could dissuade people from moving to the area and that it would be particularly tough on older people, especially those living alone, or families with several children.

"It's a massive burden to put on our community," board member Mike Summers said.

However, Central Otago District Council chief executive Phil Melhopt said, "We don't have the ability to reduce the costs of running the scheme".

Board member Diane Paterson said the charges could have a "significant impact on social services".

Council infrastructure services manager Murray Washington said part of the idea behind volumetric charging was to encourage a reduction in the amount of water people used.

Community board chairman Barry Becker said he did not like the high costs but he did not see a way around it.

Board members Sue Umbers and Mike Summers voted against volumetric charging.

The figures will be included in the Central Otago District Council's long-term plan, which will go out for public submissions late next month.

The other three community boards in the Central Otago district, Vincent, Cromwell and Roxburgh, have also agreed to adopt volumetric charging for water.

The new charging model is due to take effect from July 1 this year except in the Roxburgh ward, where water meters are not intended to be installed until 2017.

sarah.marquet@odt.co.nz

 

 

 

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