Southside residents win in sewerage system cost dispute
SOUTHSIDE residents connecting to the Gympie sewerage system will not have to pay for the privilege following a major back flip from Gympie Regional Council.
In what Mayor Mick Curran described yesterday as a "huge win for public consultation" the council threw out the policy it adopted last July which was designed to hasten the roll-out of sewerage on the Southside, but which in reality would have cost homeowners thousands of dollars each.
A public meeting last month left Cr Curran and senior staff in no doubt as to how residents felt about having to shell out up to $10,000 to connect to the system.
The figure was significantly higher that what the council thought it would be.
As a result, Gympie Regional Council will now resurrect its original policy and slower plan to roll-out sewerage on the Southside, bearing the cost itself.
About 75% of the Southside is already sewered, leaving about 570 homes yet to be connected.
A council report on the issue yesterday noted that all the remaining homes were on larger lots, and it was feasible to extend sewerage to 300 of them.
"These houses will cost approximately $13,000 each to sewer under the current policy, whereby council does not pay for the house connections," the report from engineering director Bob Fredman said.
"The balance of 270 will be very expensive to sewer and it is recommended that these not be considered for sewering in the short term."
Mr Fredman said council's options included:
Changing the policy completely so there was no cost for homeowners being connected - leaving the council to bear the full cost;
Establishing a fixed cash rebate - of say $2000 - which would offset the cost of pipe work, without restoration, for each house;
Retaining the policy, but extending the rate exemption period to five years;
Establishing a council finance and payment plan for those without the current means to connect.
Not changing the policy, on the basis that the current program maximises the sewerage roll-out and was fair given the benefits to homeowners.
The council opted to revert to its original policy of bearing the full cost itself.