The Kaipara District Council will seek to recover outstanding waste water costs of $18,500 from residents at the Sunset West subdivision in Dargaville.
On Wednesday, following a notice of motion from councillor Jonathan Larsen, a 4-3 vote decided the council would invoice the residents for the $5,000 errors in the 2009/10 year and $13,500 for the 2010/2011 year, which due to clerical errors, had not previously been billed.
The costs are on an equal share basis from the owners of each dwelling connected to a sewage holding tank at the time costs were incurred. Houses at the Sunset West subdivision at Baylys Beach are not connected to a council-owned sewerage scheme or privately owned septic tanks.
Instead the raw sewage is pumped to a holding tank which is emptied by the council.
The consent notice on the titles says each owner connected to the system must pay the council the owner's share of emptying the tank.
Operations manager, John Burt said initially this involved only two houses which were invoiced for the first six months.
Now there are eight or nine houses, one of which belongs to Mayor Neil Tiller.
Mr Burt said, "It appears there has been an oversight in the invoicing." As Mr Burt was not on staff at the time the errors occurred, he can only surmise because the arrangement was outside the normal process that it had been overlooked.
He rejected allegations of "corruption".
"The mayor was not among those who received the initial invoice ... it was the mayor who raised the issue regarding the charges with the chief executive," said Mr Burt.
Chief executive Steve Ruru said at the time of the development the council was considering a public wastewater scheme and it was believed the subdivision would be connected into the public scheme. "Council gave an interim agreement to empty the tanks ... arguably this is a contractual agreement. If the process had been kept going this wouldn't be an issue," he said.
Councillor Andrew Wades questioned the fairness of going back to the residents for the money for something that was essentially council's mistake.
Cr Larsen argued under the Local Government Act there was a potential liability for elected council for failing to recover such funds. He said the liability for payment was clear in the consent notices on the titles and it was pertinent under the current financial situation to make such cost recoveries.