Council brought a late item to the Council-under-administration meeting on May 24.
The late item was to adopt new price increases for water and sewerage and stormwater drainage charges.
The move came only hours after IPART’s official announcement of the increased price rises was released at one minute past midnight on May 24.
Less than 19 hours later, Administrator Rik Hart adopted the new fees as the last item of the council agenda.
The estimated revenue to be raised from Water, Sewerage and Stormwater Drainage Service Charges based on the IPART’s Final Determination issued on 24 May 2022 is $189,997,681.
Or $190M in round figures.
For year one.
The new rates take effect from July 1.
Council is required to adopt the pricing at least one month prior to imposing the charges, so its deadline was May 31.
It got there with a week to spare.
The news broke at midnight on May 24 that water and sewer prices will increase from July 1 for the next four years at the equivalent of 28 per cent in total.
The rate rise will be phased in.
# Year one will be a 17% increase for a typical household bill on July 1.
This would mean an added $183 to bring an average bill to $1,242 in year one.
# Year two will be a 6% increase – $80 extra to the average bill. Plus inflation.
# Year three will be an 8% increase – $109 extra to the average bill. Plus inflation.
# Year four will be a 1% increase – $9 extra to the average bill. Plus inflation.
IPART said the pricing decisions allow Central Coast Council (CCC) Water to collect the same amount of money from customers over four years as if IPART had decided to allow an immediate increase of 28% from July this year.
“Inflation has been the main driver of changes between our Draft Report and Final Report,” IPART said.
The decision is four per cent higher than flagged in IPART’s draft report.
“For typical households, the bill impacts of the prices we have set are also lower than those under CCC Water’s pricing proposal because we set prices to recover IPART’s assessment of CCC Water’s efficient costs, rather than the costs proposed by CCC Water,” IPART said.
CCC Water initially proposed a 34% bill increase, but it grew to 37% when updated with inflation figures.
IPART said its price path best balanced the need to minimise overall bill impacts for customers, particularly in the first year of the determination, while ensuring CCC Water received its required revenue and had the funding needed to improve water services.
“We plan to review CCC Water’s costs again, ahead of the next determination – scheduled for 2026-27 – and set prices to ensure that customers pay no more than needed for their water services,” IPART said.
“The 2025-26 prices we have set as part of this review, are not a baseline for the next review and determination period.”
Prices from 2026-27 would be based on IPART’s assessment of efficient costs at that time.
IPART handed down its decision with a statement embargoed until one minute past midnight.