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Policy confirmed on underground utilities

Policy confirmed on underground utilities

June 30, 2004

North Shore City Council will underground power and phone lines, but only as part of general road upgrades, after the public rejected a $280m ratepayer-funded scheme.

North Shore City residents will still have the option of undergrounding power and phone lines on their streets with the support of the council, but must pay for the work themselves.

Councillors have reflected public opinion by rejecting the option of a continuing programme of undergrounding all power and phone lines in North Shore City. This would have taken 70 years and cost $4m a year, leading to substantial rate rises.

"Where we are doing major road work, such as widening, the cost of undergrounding utilities may be incorporated into the cost of the project," North Shore City's Mayor George Wood says.

"Unfortunately we cannot afford to underground all utilities without big rate rises, which the public would not support. If a neighbourhood wants to get together and pay for its street to be undergrounded, we are happy to help organise that."

Council officers will conduct a survey of residents in a street where a request for undergrounding has been received. The survey must include all residents of a local street, or at least 100 residents on a main road or side road.

If more than 80 per cent of residents surveyed are willing to pay for undergrounding, the council will pass the survey on to power company Vector as a privately-funded undergrounding project.

"If a project goes forward, residents can deal directly with Vector, or the council can pay for undergrounding with borrowed funds, then recover the cost from the residents over four years, plus a five per cent administration fee," George Wood says.

"The council will also fund new lights in streets where utilities have been undergrounded," he says.

"We believe this is the best balance between keeping costs down for all our ratepayers and supporting putting the lines underground."

ENDS

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