Mayor admits 'we got the policy wrong' on southside sewerage
SOUTHSIDE residents left new Mayor Mick Curran in no doubt they were unhappy with the "unfair" and "exorbitant" cost of connecting to the new Southside sewerage scheme.
About 120 people turned up at the Pavilion on Monday night to voice their concerns about the scheme and the cost associated with connecting to the system.
Most agreed the cost was unfair with some residents in established homes were quoted more than $10,000 to connect to the system.
Other residents thought it was unfair they had to connect and pay sewerage charges on their rates while they still had fully operational septic or biolytic treatment plants.
They called for a user pays system.
By the end of the night Cr Curran admitted the council had got the policy wrong and promised to take changes back to a meeting of all councillors.
"We have got the policy wrong," Cr Curran said.
"It's wrong - we accept that," he said.
Cr Curran then asked the crowd if they would still wanted sewerage fast tracked on the Southside and would they be happy if council capped the price for connection at $2000.
A majority of hands were raised in support of the idea but a pensioner at the back of the meeting said he still couldn't afford the $2000 or the extra cost that would be put on his rates once connected.
After the meeting many residents asked why council levied the rest of the region, to give Imbil free sewerage, yet expected Southside residents to pay.
Cr Curran said he personally didn't believe in imposing more charges on rates.
"The last thing I would like to see is another levy imposed on the ratepayers," he said.
He said it was possible the council could revert to the old system where connection was free but it took the system a lot longer to roll out, or council could cap the cost of connecting.
"I will go back to council and see if we can make this fairer for residents," he said.
"It's always good to consult with the community and find out what direction the council should take.
"Council has listened to the people and is trying to do something about it."