WATER and sewerage charges will skyrocket by 30% in Emerald to part-fund the planned $32 million East Nogoa treatment plant essential to the town's growth.
Elsewhere in the Central Highlands, urban charges will rise by 10% to compensate for the higher cost of raw water, chemicals and electricity.
Handing down the 2012-13 budget yesterday, Mayor Peter Maguire softened the blow by announcing a general rates rise of 1.6% for most homeowners. A new reduced rate in the dollar for general rates will be offered to ratepayers who own and live in their property.
Mines in the district will be hit by rises to the point where they will contribute 42.5% of the $63.5 million rates budget - up from 31% in 2011-12.
"In recognition of cost of living pressures, the council has been able to maintain rate increases in the urban and rural categories to less than the local government cost index (of 3.6%)," Cr Maguire said. "We understand that local people are hurting and we are doing everything we can to try to help."
Cr Maguire said the Central Highlands local government area was subject to revaluation in the past 12 months, which had seen some larger than average increases in some parts of the shire. To reduce the impacts of these changes, the council will cap residential and rural rating.
Operating expenditure for the financial year is budgeted at $177,656,684, with an extra $80,970,204 for capital works.
"The supply of water and sewerage services in our growing community continues to have significant impacts on council's cost base. In particular, over the next two years, Emerald will see the construction of a new water treatment plant to augment water supply for the town," he said.
The council intends to borrow $26m towards construction of the East Nogoa facility.
Rates will rise for non-resident worker accommodation to "more accurately reflect the impacts of the social and physical infrastructure" that a non-resident workforce has.
Cr Maguire said higher cost pressures continued to dog the council, whose operations would also be indirectly affected by the carbon tax.
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