Water prices across the Singleton local government area will be levelled with a uniform tariff pricing model to be progressively implemented over three years, starting from July 2019.
Uniform prices will apply to both residential and commercial customers, resulting in reduced water bills in Broke, Jerrys Plains and Mount Thorley over three years to be in line with Singleton bills.
There will be no additional increase in Singleton bills as a result of the level pricing model.
Mark Ihlein, Singleton Council’s Director Planning and Infrastructure Services Group, said higher prices at Broke, Jerrys Plains and Mount Thorley had been justified because of the increased capital costs of connecting outlying areas.
In Broke, for example, the capital outlay to provide the connecting water infrastructure had resulted in the current rates for Broke being 23% more than Singleton.
“Uniform pricing is consistent with industry best practice, simplifies understanding of water charges within the community and improves equity across the Singleton LGA,” he said.
“Higher prices in outlying areas were as a result of the higher capital cost of originally providing the infrastructure, however Council is now in a position to provide equal pricing across all areas as the initial capital costs have since been recovered.
“Uniform pricing will apply to both residential and commercial customers equally. Commercial customers in Broke, Jerrys Plains and Mount Thorley will also experience reduced bills in 2019/2020.
“But cheaper water bills should not equate to increased usage. Council will phase the changes in over three years and will retain the current two tier pricing system with increased usage prices for residential water usage above 450kL/year to encourage efficient residential water usage. Large families are able to apply to Council for a reduction in this step-increase.”
Council’s decision to introduce a uniform pricing model follows an eight % increase in water costs each year for four years, while maintaining comparatively low prices to other water utilities. The money will fund operational, maintenance and capital works projects throughout the LGA, including new reservoirs, water treatment plant upgrades and water main replacement.
It also comes as community consultation continues on the proposed Bulga Water Supply Scheme, to provide potable water to the township.
Community workshops will be held at Bulga Community Hall on Wednesday September 2018 at 3.30 p.m. and 6 p.m. for further discussions with the community, ahead of a Council decision later this year on whether the scheme will proceed.
“The current multi tariff model has meant the costs of water under the Bulga Water Supply Scheme could not be determined until after the projects was complete and all capital expenditure was realised,” Mr Ihlein said.
“The inability to provide firm pricing information for the proposed scheme has been a key factor for community concern during community consultation.
“A uniform pricing system means Council can provide some certainty to the Bulga community about the cost of water supply under the scheme.”