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Interim wastewater decision unacceptable

Media Release
16 May 2008

Jami-Lee Ross
Manukau City Councillor for Howick

Interim wastewater decision unacceptable

Despite mounting public concern over the continuation of Manukau City’s unpopular wastewater charges, an interim decision by the Council says the fixed residential wastewater charges are here to stay.

In the wake of public opposition to the charges implemented in 2006, the Council requested a review by Manukau Water on the various options for wastewater tariffs. This review resulted in a recommendation to the Council that a part fixed, part volumetric tariff be adopted to address the inequities of the current charges.

However, after considering over 400 submissions on wastewater charges, Manukau City Council’s Policy and Activities Committee has supported a recommendation from the Mayor and Council officers to retain the unpopular fixed charges.

Howick councillor Jami-Lee Ross has been one of the councillors pushing for a change to the wastewater charges and says the Council’s unwillingness to listen to ratepayers will come as no surprise to the public.

“Ratepayers have been battling these wastewater charges since they were first introduced, but time and again the Council has refused to listen.

“These wastewater charges need an immediate change because they are hurting elderly and low water users the most. Fixed wastewater charges are unfair because everyone pays the same regardless of the amount of wastewater produced.

“With fixed wastewater charges a single person pays the same amount as a very large household. This effectively means low water users are subsidising high water users which is completely unacceptable.

“Nobody should be expected to subsidise other residents or ratepayers, and people should only have pay for the service they receive. An urgent change is needed so that wastewater charges are fair for everyone.”

Mr Ross says the best option for the Council to adopt is the part fixed, part volumetric tariff option recommended by Manukau Water. Such a change would see approximately half the cost of wastewater charges being based on the volume of water used.

“This option would give ratepayers some ability to control how much they pay for wastewater by adjusting their usage. It would provide relief to low water users who are adversely affected by fixed charges, as well as encourage greater water conservation.”

Mr Ross says many Howick ratepayers will be upset by the support from Mayor Len Brown and Howick councillor Sharon Stewart towards the current charging regime.

“The Howick community will be very disappointed that Len Brown and Sharon Stewart both voted to continue the fixed wastewater charges that are hurting fixed income and elderly ratepayers.

“Our community sent a strong message to candidates at the last election that sorting out the wastewater charging mess is a top priority. The status quo is not an option and those ratepayers will feel let down that two of their representatives are happy to see these problems continue.”

Manukau City Council will again consider the wastewater charges at a Council meeting next week. Mr Ross encourages ratepayers concerned about the Council’s interim decision to urgently make contact with the Mayor and local councillors to express their concerns.

“Manukau City’s unreasonable wastewater charging policy needs addressing this year. The City has spoken through the consultation process on many occasions. Now we just need politicians to grow the courage to make the changes that the public have been waiting for.”


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