Short-term pain for gain
By DAWN COHEN
BALLINA residents will pay an extra $70 for sewerage services by June 2006 under a plan being considered by Ballina Shire Council.
The council has said it wants to lift residential sewerage rates $30 this financial year and $40 next year.
Cr Keith Johnson said ratepayers' short-term pain would mean long-term gain for the shire.
The council would spend about $50 million at today's values over the next decade to improve the service and expand it to cope with Ballina's growth.
The council would have about $15.5 million reserved for sewerage services by the end of the financial year, with shortfall to be borrowed.
"We need the ratepayer to understand the rate increase is not because we want to slug them, but because we want to save them money in the long haul," Cr Johnson said.
He said increasing rates reduced borrowings and vulnerability to accumulative interest.
"It will reduce how much we borrow by about $14 million, which means we save about $10 million on interest payments."
Ballina Shire residents now pay $330 per annum.
The council will exhibit a draft management plan in May and June suggesting a residential sewerage rate of $360 in 2005/2006, and $400 from 2006/2007.
Civil services group manager, John Truman, promised developers would cover the full cost of sewerage infrastructure required for Ballina's growth through de- velopment contribution funds.
He said ratepayers would only pay to cover costs of improving the system.
The council also wanted to change the method for calculating non-residential sewerage rates.
While residents pay a flat sewerage rate, businesses pay more for each toilet and urinal on the premises. The council wants to switch to the volumetric method which charges according to the amount of water used for sewerage, rather than the number of pedestals.