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Water bill skyrockets

JO BELWORTHY
Last updated 10:26 05/02/2013

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Dargaville & Districts

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A massive water rate increase has one ratepayer asking if there's gold in the supply.

Andrea Randell says her mum nearly dropped dead with shock when she received her rates bill for her holiday bach at Glinks Gully.

Her previous bill of $35.28 for nine cubic metres of water had rocketed to $376.04 - and she only used eight this time.

The increase is attributed to a new rating system introduced by the Kaipara District Council to ensure consistency of water charges across the district.

The system was signalled as part of the Long Term Plan but some ratepayers have been surprised, not only by the price hikes but the lack of information before they received them.

"It seemed to come out of the blue," Mrs Randell says.

The rating system differs depending on where you live.

For example, a person living in Dargaville will now pay a flat rate of $60 for the first cubic metre of water used.

A person at Glinks Gully and Mangawhai will pay $349, and Maungaturoto and Ruawai residents will pay $222.

Previously there was no fixed charge and consumers paid the same price for every cubic metre of water.

A new two-tier rate now applies for the first cubic metre, or part thereof, followed by a much smaller amount than previously charged for subsequent water usage.

For example, Dargaville ratepayers will now pay $60 for the first cubic metre, with subsequent rates decreasing from $1.93 to $1.65, and in Glinks Gully, subsequent rates decrease from $3.92 to $3.38 per cubic metre.

Maungaturoto Station Village residents will pay $2.34, Maungaturoto township $1.81 and Ruawai $3.32.

Mrs Randell, from Dargaville, says she can't believe eight cubic metres of water can cost so much.

But corporate services manager Barbara Ware says it all comes down to economies of scale.

"The Glinks Gully water supply was heavily subsidised by the general rate because of the small numbers connected, and this subsidy has now decreased," she says.

"The LTP says council has to live within its means so we are trying to get a system that is as fair to as many people as possible."

Council's aim is to standardise the nature of charging across the water networks and to have some consistency with the charging of the water.

The two-tier metre charges ensures connected (metre) properties pay a minimum contribution towards council's costs of providing town water supply to those networks, she says.

A new connectable charge has also been introduced for properties that could link to the relevant supplies, but have not in the past paid for it.

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