Selwyn council disputes residents' $600k sewerage rate refund claim

The district council has built 27km of pipeline between Darfield, Kirwee and the Pines Wastewater...
The district council has built 27km of pipeline between Darfield, Kirwee and the Pines Wastewater Treatment Plan near Rolleston. PHOTO: SDC
The Darfield Residents Association has called for a rates refund - but Selwyn District Council has refused the request.

Association president Harvey Polglase said the Darfield sewage investigation targeted rate of $82 should have been stopped in 2020, and ratepayers are owed more than $600,000. 

The rate has been charged since 2009 and was put in place to investigate a new sewage system for Darfield.

Harvey Polglase.
Harvey Polglase.
Polglase said in 2020 it was decided the township would be connected to the Pines Waste Water Treatment Plant.

He has estimated the total owed to ratepayers is about $603,400.

“This unspent amount equates to about $400 per ratepayer,” Polglase said.

Polglase has asked the Auditor-General to investigate the rate and whether the council owes ratepayers a refund.

District council head of asset management Murray England said the decision to build the pipeline was part of the 2021-31 Long Term Plan. He said since 2021 the rate has been used to monitor houses which are not yet connected to the scheme.

“The majority of houses in Darfield are not yet connected to the pipeline and will not be for some years. 

“This means there are still costs around designs for wastewater collection and treatment to connect these houses and to facilitate public consultation as the transition happens from one system to another,” England said.

“Additionally, the council will continue to monitor groundwater quality until all houses have connected to the new system.”

Murray England.
Murray England.
Polglase disagrees with England.

“Since the rate was to decide whether or not to proceed with the project, any costs now associated with design for collection and treatment should fall within the project budget,” Polglase said.

England said the rate will not be charged this year.

“The fee is being stopped as sufficient funds are held for this work and a new fee structure in the future will be considered in consultation with Darfield and Kirwee residents for the actual connection costs.”