Residents demand forum on water charges

The social media post has been shared more than 200 times.
The social media post has been shared more than 200 times.

Local residents have taken to social media to issue a battle cry against Mount Isa City council’s changes to water billing.

“Mount Isa residents respectfully request the Mount Isa City Council to host a public forum on their new water charge scheme. Like and share if you agree,” a Facebook post read.

The post has been shared to more than 200 pages since it was first posted by Danielle Slade on Thursday evening.

Last week council announced it would be transitioning into a new water billing system from July 1.

Mount Isa residents will now pay a $1130 base charge for access to water on top of a consumption charge.

During Wednesday’s council meeting Mayor Joyce McCulloch reminded residents to lodge their complaints formally with council so they could be followed up, rather than posting grievances on social media.

Cr McCulloch said the he decision was made after several years of feedback from ratepayers who wanted control over their water consumption rather than accept the previous 950kl flat rate annual charge.

It will be another fortnight before council confirms final rates for their new water billing structure during its budget hand-down.

The new structure will include a fixed access charge and a separate notice for water consumption.

Residents will pay $0.87 per kilolitre of water as well as a fixed $1130 access charge.

The new "user pays system" will replace the current quota system, where residents and business paid an annual fee for a set volume of water each year.

Mayor Joyce McCulloch said this would provide residents control over the amount of water they use and pay for.

“It gives ratepayers more control, while ensuring there’s adequate funds to cover the cost to council of water delivery and ongoing network maintenance,” Cr McCulloch said.

“We have spoken to many residents who are average water consumers, and for an average property, it is enough to keep your property looking good as well as sufficient use inside the home.

“Our modelling shows low to moderate water consumers will on average save money from the outset,” she said.

The city will also switch to half yearly water bills for residential property and quarterly for commercial users.

The first bill will be for the period July 1 to December 31 of this year. 

Council CEO Sharon Ibardolaza said the consumption-based water pricing system is already in place in many other Queensland towns and cities.

“These charges help fund ongoing water management, supply, maintenance and infrastructure upgrades," Ibardolaza said. 

“These are considerable costs that can’t be avoided, but we’ve worked hard to keep charges affordable and fair.”

Information regarding proposed water charges is available here.