The Kaipara District Council has agreed to rate all 57 lot owners of the Sunset West Subdivision at Baylys Beach for sewerage costs relating to the second half of the 2011/12 financial year and the full 2012/13 year.
Sewage disposal at the Dargaville subdivision has been a contentious issue for several years. While under a consent notice the developer was responsible for installing a private sewerage scheme at the time (in 2004) a public sewerage scheme was being considered by the council and an agreement between the council and the developer allowed a storage tank system to be installed while the public scheme was under consideration.
The council agreed to collect sewage from the tanks and to charge householders connected at the time, but this month it was acknowledged council clerical errors meant residents had not been billed since the 2009/10 year. It was also revealed an inconsistency between the consent notice and the sale and purchase agreements - one saying those connected would pay for disposal and the other saying costs would be shared by all lot owners.
On July 2 the council resolved to invoice residents in occupied dwellings connected to the storage tanks the cost of the sewerage transport - $5000 for the 2009/10 year and $13,500 for 2010/11 year.
Submitters to a statement of proposal for the subdivision released alongside the council's draft Long Term Plan argued that under the sale and purchase agreement expected costs for the private scheme would be about $500 per year not the $1200-plus (the shared costs) some would be facing. They said they were struggling to pay those costs, which would be exacerbated by projected rate hikes.
At a special meeting on July 16 KDC operations manager John Burt said the developer, Chris Cochrane, had agreed to subsidise charges up to the first half of the 2011/12 year which would reduce charges to the occupants for that period to around $500.
The remaining 18 months (to July 2013) would see all 57 lots target rated at $886 for occupied and $664 for unoccupied per year.
It is expected by then the developer will have completed the private scheme - which requires occupiers to pay for the one-off cost of a "step tank" as a first-stage treatment.
Some councillors felt setting a rate would allowed the developer a chance to delay, while others argued the scheme could be completed within six months, causing complications due to the rate being set for the year as well as a possible legal/process risk.
Deputy Mayor Julie Geange said the matter was "another stuff up by council ... it's backed itself into a corner ..."
Councillors Wayne Linton and Julia Sutherland wanted to delay making a decision until they had further information, but Cr Andrew Wade said the residents and developer needed a decision. "It's a debacle," he said. "Chasing errors is not the done thing ... "
Crs Linton and Sutherland voted against the decision.