Sewerage costs cause upset, stress

Tokoiti residents are "desperately worried" about the cost of the Clutha District Council's proposed sewerage upgrade.

Resident Lynn Smart said she, like many others, was stressed and worried about the council's sewerage plans.

"We feel betrayed by the council. It did nothing and now we have to pay for its mistake," she said.

The council estimated that an upgrade would cost Tokoiti $575,000 and ongoing annual costs of $6400. This would be paid in a lump-sum contribution of $19,200 plus $274 a year or $1769 per year, in addition to present rates.

A council newsletter distributed to Tokoiti residents stated the council had concerns about sewage disposal in the area since 2001. The issue was first addressed with the community in 2005-06, and the council had decided that "something must be done without further delay".

Tokoiti at present has septic tanks.

The newsletter said a "significant" number of septic tanks had failed and it expected more would do so.

"Those that have already failed are having an unacceptable impact on surrounding properties and have significant health risks - to the extent where sewage is running down roadside drains."

Mrs Smart said the council should give residents "some leeway" and allow them to fix septic tanks.

"It's just not possible to pay this much money - we're desperately worried at the cost. We've lived here for 50 years and if this goes ahead we might have to walk away from our house." Former Clutha District councillor and Tokoiti resident Vanessa Briggs said residents were "very upset" and many would be forced to move if a council estimate of $1769 per year was applied to existing rates.

"It's cruel to expect pensioners to pay 20% of their incomes in rates. Clearly any family earning less than $40,000 a year will be seriously affected," she said.

She said the council missed a "golden opportunity" when it failed to include Tokoiti in the Milton sewerage upgrade, 75% funded by the Department of Corrections.

The issue of sewerage had gone on for years and had been poorly managed from the beginning, she said.

A residents' 7.30pm public meeting is being held today at Milton's Coronation Hall.



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