TIME IS RUNNING OUT: Residents will have until January 31 to purchase a tank if they want a rebate.
TIME IS RUNNING OUT: Residents will have until January 31 to purchase a tank if they want a rebate.

Rebate dries up

RESIDENTS have voiced their frustration with an announcement by the Southern Downs Regional Council about the early end to the water tank rebate scheme.

Despite its positive uptake, the council decided to close the rebate scheme for this financial year on Friday January 31, instead of June 30.

“Due to the overwhelming positive take up by eligible residents of the water tank rebate and the impact on council budget, during the January general council meeting, councillors made a tough decision to place the water tank rebate scheme on hold for the remainder of the financial year,” a council spokesman said.

The decision prompted a wave of backlash on the council’s Facebook page, with more than 100 comments from mostly outraged residents who would be unable to benefit from the scheme.

Yangan resident Jenn Greene-Galloway told the Daily News she was holding off from making a tank purchase until she could afford it.

“This is a broken promise to extend the rebate into the 2019/20 financial year.

How many people have been saving like myself to install tanks,” Ms Greene-Galloway said.

“This will anger and disrupt many residents future plans and I’m so over these snap decisions.”

Ms Greene-Galloway said many others, like her, were in a tight financial position.

“The council has stated to many residents in the past that they have until the end of the financial year and that there’s no rush,” she said.

“Well I suggest they’re rushing now with their already near maxed-out credit cards.”

$1M paid already

The water tank rebate scheme was designed to reduce strain on the reticulated water system by reimbursing ratepayers up to $2500 depending on the size of the tank installed.

Mayor Tracy Dobie said people had plenty of time to buy tanks and apply for reimbursement.

“All we are asking is for you to put in an order by the end of the month for your tank,” she said. “This scheme has realistically been in place for three financial years.”

Cr Dobie said the council had spent almost $1 million on reimbursements in the past six months. “Because we cannot possibly anticipate how many more applications there will be for the next six months, we can’t estimate how much more money we need to pay out for those tank rebates,” she said.

“Our water business unit cannot afford it.”

The council will allow a two-month period, up until March 31, in which applications can be lodged to access the water tank rebate.

“Our plan is to continue the rebate after July 1 so if, for some reason, you can’t get your order in by January 31 and application by end of March, you just need to wait five months,” Cr Dobie said.

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