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Posted on: 15 May, 2018

Council forced to withdraw opt-in water tariff option

Whitsunday Regional Council has been forced to withdraw the opt-in water allocation option to ratepayers due a recent legal challenge outcome at another Queensland council.

Mayor Andrew Willcox delivered on an election promise by giving residential ratepayers a choice for their preferred water billing options as part of his council’s first budget.

“When the opt-in tariff was introduced in 2016, residents were legally able to choose between the then existing two-part tariff water tariff or opt-in to move to an allocation-based tariff,” he said.

“However, a recent legal decision against another Queensland Council has ruled any allocation-based tariff or seeking to levy charges for water in the manner contemplated by an allocation tariff, was invalid.

“Council did its due diligence, sought two legal opinions and was advised it should now avoid adopting water tariffs that do not involve a variable charge based directly on the amount of water used,” Mayor Willcox said.

“As the current state of the law is that the Council cannot offer an allocation-based water tariff, even on an opt-in basis, council has no choice but to bill all ratepayers using a two-part tariff.

“We will continue to monitor the legal challenge, which is under appeal, and should the court overturn the decision then council will immediately review again providing an opt-in water tariff,” Mayor Willcox said.

Under the two-part tariff system there is an annual charge for all connections to the system (known as the Access Charge); and one or more charge rates for each kilolitre of water consumed (Consumption Charge).

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