Public meeting wrestles with water account deficit

By John Cousins

One of the architects of universal water metering in Tauranga, former city councillor Mary Dillon, says it may not be necessary to increase tariffs to recover the $3 million deficit in the water account.

Mrs Dillon, who chaired a public meeting this week on the issue, was confident that some of the deficit would eventually be collected because of the cycle of wet and dry summers. She intends to ask the council to recover the deficit over a longer period than the three-year option proposed in the draft plan for 2012-22. Mrs Dillon was keen to see the depreciation component of the deficit funded from the fixed water charge and not the tariff through the meter.

Tuesday night's meeting at the Omanu Surf Club was organised by Colleen Gourlay, who intends to hold a daytime meeting for those unable to get out in the evening. She invited Mrs Dillon to chair Tuesday's meeting which was attended by 10 people. Mrs Dillon said the meeting was small enough to allow the people who attended to go over a few things together.

Part of the reason for the $3 million deficit was the series of wet summers in which not enough revenue was gathered through the meter to meet costs.

Mrs Dillon's attitude was that the overs and unders of the cycle of dry and wet summers would collect enough revenue without increasing meter charges.

Mrs Gourlay said people went away feeling happier and more informed about making submissions to the council's 10-year plan.

"We need to get people to be less apathetic about local government because if you do nothing it gives them [the council] a licence to do what they want."

The council's option to double the fixed charge to $52 and add 11c a cubic metre to the tariff led to a community outcry.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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