Council areas benefit from water dividends
TWO local councils were named among those accused of pocketing huge profits from water utilities and not passing the savings to ratepayers.
In addition to their annual dividends from QUU, both Somerset Regional Council (SRC) and Lockyer Valley Regional Council (LVRC) received payouts from the windup of the former Esk Gatton Laidley Water Board (EGLWB).
A QUU Price Monitoring Information Return report from August 2010 stated 80% of the EGLWB regulatory asset base was allocated to the Lockyer Valley Regional Council and 20% to Somerset.
SRC finance manager Geoffrey Smith said they received an estimated $1.636 million in dividends, interest and other payments from water retailer Queensland Urban Utilities during the 2012/13 financial year.
"Council budgeted on spending $65.6 million in the Somerset region this financial year," he said.
"Money will be invested into services such as, road and street maintenance and infrastructure, public waste facilities and services, and pest control."
The formalisation of the windup of the Esk Gatton Laidley Water Board (EGLWB) resulted in the payment of $92,000 to Somerset Council.
"To minimise the impact for Somerset of any delays in the winding up process, Council resolved on March 9 2011 that Somerset Regional Council offer to vary the agreement with the Esk Gatton Laidley Water Board and Lockyer Valley Regional Council to allow for the remaining land owned by Esk Gatton Laidley Water Board to be transferred to Lockyer Valley Regional Council at no cost in exchange for Somerset Regional Council not being required to contribute towards any further operating costs of the Board," said Mr Smith.
Lockyer Valley Regional Council received over $1.6 million in dividends and service fees from QUU.
"All money acquired from QUU is treated as operating revenue and used to maintain all council facilities," read a statement from LVRC
"All money raised through the sale of the Esk Gatton Laidley Water Board is also treated as operating revenue with only $2200 received in the past year.
"Council facilities continue to be maintained, in part through the dividends received from Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU), the distributor retailer of water for the Lockyer Valley region and Council."
Based on money received by Somerset, it is understood Lockyer received just over $368,000 from the Esk Gatton Laidley Water Board wind up in 2011 but at the time of publication LVRC had not confirmed this figure.