ONE councillor has raised concerns this week’s bulk water price drop will transfer costs to ratepayers of the city.
Irrigators in the Peel Valley received a vital reprieve with the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s (IPART) cutting bulk water prices by about 70 per cent.
Tamworth councillor Mark Rodda, however, fears this could shift the cost, while being “excellent” news for the local irrigation industry.
“It could be transferring the cost on to another area of the community,” Cr Rodda said.
With the decision shifting 80 per cent of costs to licence fees and the remaining 20 per cent to usage fees, Cr Rodda said the city’s ratepayers could be bearing more costs.
“Council will be paying higher licence fees,” he said.
“Ultimately, it could be good for the ratepayers, if they use more water.
“But, if we say it’s a free-for-all, that flies in the face of our work over the last decade trying to control flippant water-use.”
Cr Rodda said he was happy prices had been slashed for Peel Valley water users.
“It should’ve happened six years ago,” he said.
The Tamworth councillor believed “postage-stamp” pricing across the board was the way forward for water prices.
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While the IPART determination dropped prices by about 70 per cent in the Peel area, Cr Rodda said it was still $16 per megalitre higher than prices in other NSW valleys.
“It makes us uncompetitive,” he said.
“Postage-stamp pricing could have been legislated, but they’ve chosen the easy option because they didn’t want to upset irrigators in other areas.”
Meanwhile, the Tamworth ratepayers’ association said it was “ecstatic” for local water users and even said the price drop was “miraculous”.
“It’s hard enough to make money rurally,” ratepayers’ association vice-president David McKinnon said.
“They were looking at losing an industry.
“I know some were shrinking farms because of the cost of water and Tamworth has very unreliable weather so they need that water more.”
“Now, it has miraculously changed.”
Mr McKinnon hoped ratepayers would not be forced to pick up and costs from the decision.
“Hopefully it doesn’t get shifted,” he said.
Following a determination by IPART on Tuesday, bulk water prices in the Peel Valley will drop from $58.26 per megalitre to $18.36 from the start of the 2018/19 financial year