WATER BILL: South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell has clarified the council's decision to reduce the cost of water from Kingaroy Swickers. (Picture: Jessica McGrath)
WATER BILL: South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell has clarified the council's decision to reduce the cost of water from Kingaroy Swickers. (Picture: Jessica McGrath)

Mayor clarifies $150k ‘discount’ given to Swickers

BEFORE the December council meeting South Burnett mayor Keith Campbell clarified the confusion around the water ‘discount’ allegedly given to the region’s largest employer saying no ratepayer would be charged extra.

During the November meeting all seven councillors approved for Swickers Bacon Factory at Kingaroy to continue to receive a discount for their water usage.

Councillor Ros Heit said she was “in favour of this because Swickers is a very large employer and is a contributor to our economy” but questioned whether council needed to consider that it did cost them $153,460 per year.

Cr Campbell said during the December meeting that he needed to set the record straight.

“I’ve been approached by a number of people who believe that council is paying Swickers $153,000 and that ratepayers are going to have to pay for this in their rates,” he said.

“This is totally incorrect. No money will change hands.

“Swickers will not be receiving a cheque from council of $153,000.”

He said the bacon factory was charged $1.67 for the first 20,000 kilolitres in each six-monthly period, which falls under the Tier 1 charge for water usage.

“The additional Tiers are imposed to encourage more prudent use of water by all those connected to the towns reticulated water system.

“Tier 2 will kick in after the 20,000 kilolitres and will be charged at $2.24 kilolitre.

“The fact is that it does not cost council an extra $153,460 to produce this volume of water, as per T2, it is potential unearned revenue,” he said.

Cr Campbell said Swickers was receiving the same benefit as council resolved two years ago in line with the corporate plan.

“In the case of Swickers, water is an essential ingredient to keep their factory manufacturing goods and keep their 800 or so employees in full time work,” he said.

“It was simply a continuation of a process that has been in place to account for the drought.

“As per the officer’s recommendation, this is reviewed annually.”