Organisations raise big stink over sewer fee
By MARY MANN firstname.lastname@example.org SEWERAGE issues have floated to the top at Ballina again, but this time it's not the residents who are complaining. Three non-profit organisations are baulking at paying Ballina Shire Council the $12,500 each it would cost to get connected to the council's new backlog sewer system.
Australian Seabird Rescue, Richmond Christian College and the Ballina congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses say having to pay the full amount is an extra burden which community-focused organisations shouldn't have to bear.
"Australian Seabird Rescue is a not-for-profit organisation which contributes greatly to the wellbeing of animals and the community in the Ballina area," a letter to the council read.
The new sewer system was a hot topic among local residents last year after the council tried to make them pay the full $12,000 connection fee to help it cover costs. Residents said it was simply too much.
In January, after a petition by local residents and a public meeting last year, the council adopted its backlog sewer policy, which indicated residential properties only had to pay 20 per cent of the scheme costs, about $2500.
But commercial properties still had to pay full price, about $12,500.
After receiving the requests from non-residential customers, council staff prepared a report with options to be considered at a meeting tomorrow.
It recommends the council keeps the capital cost recovery charge, but then assists the non-profit customers by cutting their annual sewer charges by the same amount.
Rochelle Ferris, president of Australian Seabird Rescue, said she was pleased with the recommendation and hoped councillors would back it tomorrow.
"We hope they take into consideration the $30,000 our landlord has already had to spend installing a new septic treatment system, which will be redundant once we get connected to the mains," she said.