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Thursday, March 31, 2011

MBRC Water Subsidy May Continue

A motion tabled by Division Two councillor, Chris Whiting, requires council in its 2011-12 Budget deliberations to consider maintaining the current level of subsidy for all water customers in the Moreton Bay region.

The $35 million water and sewerage subsidy has been endorsed unanimously by councillors but at a cost.

Council is also requested to consider maintaining the subsidy scheme beyond two years and increase the level of subsidy in subsequent Budgets.   

Finance spokesperson and Division 11 councillor, Bob Millar, said it was no surprise the motion had attracted the unanimous support of all councillors present.

“Every single councillor understands Unitywater’s pricing structure is putting added pressure on household and business budgets on top of petrol, food and electricity, and that’s the reason why council introduced a $35 million two-year subsidy in the first place,” Cr Millar said.

“Councillor Whiting’s motion will be given serious consideration in the context of this year’s Budget deliberations.

“But, it’s going to be an extremely delicate balancing act with councillors united in their determination to keep rates as low as possible and deliver a responsible Budget that continues to build our region, while also funding the tens of millions of dollars needed for the flood recovery.

“However, in the interests of fiscal responsibility I will be calling on Cr Whiting to outline the Budget savings he believes should be made to offset the cost of extending council’s water and sewerage subsidy.

“To ensure this is a completely transparent process, Cr Whiting will need to detail the infrastructure projects and services he proposes to cut from the Budget to pay for an extended subsidy scheme without putting added pressure on rates.”

Cr Whiting shot back saying this is a great step forward for ordinary rate payers.

“It is not yet a victory, but a step towards it," Cr Whiting said. 

“This should put a smile on the face of everyone who is faced with a big water bill. 

“If residents want this to happen, you must get onto your local councillor and ask them to support the push to keep the water subsidy," Cr Whiting said.