Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Paul Antonio has expressed concern over the effect the incoming carbon tax is likely to have on local government, citing a 10 per cent increase in electricity costs within an estimated overall rise around 20 per cent.
“While we are aware of our obligations under the Clean Energy Legislation with substantial work already undertaken to identify our reporting obligations, as well as the possible impacts of the proposed Carbon Pricing Mechanism, it is fair to say that we are concerned,” Cr Antonio said.
“We are working on an estimated 10 per cent increase in electricity costs due to the Carbon Pricing Mechanism alone, as well as an additional increase around 10 per cent as part of our suppliers’ predicted price path.
“For 2012/13, the carbon tax increase is estimated to be in the order of $1.2 million. About $724,000 of this increase will be in the Water and Waste Services Group and $200,000 will be associated with street lighting.
“Council also is expecting incidental cost increases for services and products that use electricity in their manufacture or delivery.
“The final dollar figure is elusive with reports from other local governments throughout Queensland varying between manageable and astronomical.
“Council’s Waste Management Services branch is affected directly by the Carbon Pricing Mechanism due to the cost of emissions from its waste collection and disposal activities.
“Given the geographic size of the Toowoomba Regional Council area, we are particularly interested in the effect our landfill operations will have on the bottom line.”
The quantum of the costs each year is dependent on the annual emissions and the carbon price for the relevant year, however the liability for waste disposal each year will continue well into the future.
Cr Antonio said strategies were being developed to fund this long-term liability and would form part of Budget and policy discussions on how council and residents would pay for the federal government tax.
Chief Executive Officer Ken Gouldthorp agreed the carbon tax represented a significant Budget issue.
“It is particularly concerning that council will need to accept a carbon tax liability from the first of July without a definitive calculation of the costs involved,” Mr Gouldthorp said.