Mayor Brett Otto regrets not further consulting the community prior to the councils vote to raise standpipe water prices, but stands by the decision.
Mayor Brett Otto regrets not further consulting the community prior to the councils vote to raise standpipe water prices, but stands by the decision.

Mayor stands by water price hike after community backlash

AFTER speaking with concerned ratepayers in Nanango on Monday, Mayor Brett Otto has said that he regrets not further consulting the community prior to the councils vote to raise standpipe water prices by 150 percent, but stands by the decision.

Addressing the community at the informal gathering in Drayton Street, the Mayor apologised for the lack of public involvement in the decision, and vowed to reopen the matter at the next general council meeting in July.

“At its last council meeting, the council resolved to increase the charges for access to standpipe water, which is available in Blackbutt, Nanango, and Hivesville from $4.10 to $10 per kilolitre,” said Mayor Otto.

“There has been concerns raised in the community about the price increase, but we just wanted to communicate to the community that the objective of council approving the increase was the produce some equity around water pricing.

“For example, if you live in Nanango township, and you use 52 kilolitres per year, you will on average pay $13.29 per kilolitre.

“However, if you access exactly the same water, it’s treated town water, from the standpipe in Nanango you’ll pay $4.10 per kilolitre.”

The mayor said the prices hikes were to make the water supply “more fair”.

While he stands by the price increase, he has expressed regret that he was unable to further consult the community prior the councils decision.

“If I personally have made a mistake in the process, it’s that I didn’t consult the community as much as a would have liked,” he said.

“I have spent the last two days in Nanango, talking with people about their concerns, and I’m going to take that information back to council.”

With those living in town continuing to pay $13.29 per kilolitre, there has been criticism the council is attempting to raise more money from out-of-town residents.

But the mayor denied this was the case.

“We don’t collect enough money as it is to support the ageing infrastructure,” he said.

“It’s very expensive to maintain. All the money we raise goes back into the water unit of council and it all gets spent on the pipes, the pumps, and the treatment plants that supply the water.”

At the last council meeting, all councillors except for Kathy Duff voted in favour of an increase on the price of water from standpipes.

Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington has written a letter to the mayor, asking him to reconsider the rise in water charges.

“It has been brought to my attention that standpipe water charges were reviewed at the South Burnett Regional Council meeting on June 17, with council voting in favour of increasing charges from $4.10 per kl to $10 per kl,” Ms Frecklington wrote.

“Following this meeting, I have received contact from SBRC residents who are very concerned about this 150 per cent increase.

“While I note council’s reasons for this increase are based on several issues, including the cost to repair vandalised standpipes, and concerns about tankers from outside the region using the service, I agree with the community’s concerns that the large increase during drought conditions and the COVID-19 pandemic is poor timing.”

South Burnett

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