No precedent set

A Ballina shire councillor has rejected claims that a plan to slug owners of 141 properties around $12,000 each (over a period of time) for the cost of connecting them to the sewerage system would set a precedent in recovering costs of other infrastructure such as lighting or footpaths.

Late last month, Ballina Shire Council decided to seek legal advice on its backlog sewerage program after Councils civil committee recommended landowners only be charged around $2000 for costs associated with internal plumbing and connection to the system on top of ongoing power costs.

The recommendation had been welcomed by residents who had lobbied Council to drop the earlier proposed $12,000 charge for the capital works associated with constructing a new sewerage system.

The move by Council to seek legal advice, led by Cr Keith Johnson, disappointed some residents from areas covered by the works including North Ballina, Lennox Head, Cumbalum and Alstonville.

Cumbalum pensioner Ray Morgan said Councils plan to pass on the full cost of connection to the landowners would set a disturbing precedent in which the costs for providing water, kerb and guttering, footpaths and other infrastructure works could be forced on landowners on a cost-recovery basis.

Mr Morgan said legal advice should have been sought before any work had started on connecting the house blocks and seeking it now would be another unwarranted legal expense for ratepayers to bear.

But Cr Johnson said absolutely no precedent would be set in terms of any other infrastructure such as lighting or footpaths which were financed from entirely different funds.

It boils down to residents not being asked to pay the full cost of the capital works, only 50 per cent, as the other 50 per cent is for existing headwork charges ... not one penny of funds have ever been collected from people there who are being supplied with the infrastructure ... and other ratepayers are contributing as much as they are, he said.

Mr Morgan said he was happy to pay a connection fee and possibly a little bit extra for connecting to the sewerage system but not $12,000.

Ask any pensioner to put their hand up for $12,000 and they wont be able to, he said.

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