Councils around Tasmania got a pleasant surprise earlier this month when TasWater dropped some cash into their accounts.
They had been bracing for zero from the company, after TasWater suspended payouts in April last year, citing COVID-19 uncertainty.
In a letter to owner councils in February, board chair Dr Stephen Gumley said the six monthly results to December were "materially better than forecast", leading to an interim dividend of $5 million.
Dr Gumley said TasWater would aim to pay another $5 million at the end of the financial year.
Burnie City mayor Steve Kons said he had questioned TasWater's estimates early on because he thought the company was exaggerating the possible costs of the pandemic.
"I was proven right on that basis. The hit wasn't as large as they expected.
"Tasmania has fared pretty well from COVID assistance at state and federal level."
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TasWater had forecast an underlying loss of $24.3 million for the year, but with a lower than expected bad debt expense plus reducing the provision for the small business rebate, it reached a half year underlying profit of $5.9 million, $13.7 million better than budgeted.
TasWater chief financial officer Matthew Pigden said the small business rebate had helped more than 7000 businesses but few of the remaining eligible firms had claimed it.
"Due to the lower uptake, we are now able to lower the estimated provision. The actual level of bad debt was lower than expected, which has had a positive impact on our financial position."
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