Residents oppose funding shift plan

ALANA DIXON
Last updated 05:00 02/06/2012

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A proposal to shift to district-wide funding for water and sewerage schemes has come under fire from Wallacetown residents, but the Southland District Council says the move will spread the burden on ratepayers more evenly.

More than two dozen submissions on the Southland District Council's draft Long Term Plan came from Wallacetown residents, who opposed the proposal to shift from locally funded schemes for waster and waste to a district-wide rate.

Wallacetown Community Board chairman Craig Spriggs said residents wanted their scheme to stand alone.

Wallacetown had a unique agreement in place with the nearby Alliance meat works, which had a contract to treat the town's sewage until 2041. A shift to district-wide funding would mean a rates hike for Wallacetown residents, as the scheme – completed in 2006 – would not need significant funding for several decades, Mr Spriggs said.

"It's really a significant sewerage rate rise for Wallacetown, where we don't really see any benefit to the town for the rise for a long time – 60 or 70 years down the track," he said.

However, district council chief executive Dave Adamson said the proposal to move to district funding would spread the cost of water and waste schemes more evenly across those who received those services.

"Under our water and waste, (the district council has) got a number of obligations, around things like drinking water quality and resource consent compliance, and some of those smaller communities are finding it difficult to meet those obligations," he said.

"What we're looking at doing is spreading the cost of those schemes ... everyone in theory gets the same service, (so) everyone will have the same cost."

The water supply and sewerage rates would fund existing and future operating expenses, capital renewals, upgrades and expansions. The capital cost of new schemes would be paid by the local community through a targeted rate.

The council is proposing two options; the first, to introduce district funding from July 1, or to phase district-funding in over two years.

The district council received 229 submissions on its draft LTP, the highest number received on a draft plan to date.

Submissions on the draft plan will be heard in Invercargill from June 6 to June 8.

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- The Southland Times

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