Drainage levy avoided

HURSTVILLE ratepayers won’t have to pay an extra tax to improve the city’s stormwater drainage systems after the majority of councillors voted against it at the March 21 council meeting at Club Rivers.
Nanjing Night Net

Cr Anne Wagstaff had proposed that council introduce an annual $25 per household stormwater management service charge, starting in July.

She said the council had underspent on drainage maintenance and renewal, resulting in a $1.7 million maintenance shortfall.

Cr Wagstaff said the council was aware that stormwater drainage was a problem in November 2008 but didn’t have a funding source at the time.

‘‘Unfortunately our infrastructure levy does not allow for expenditure on drainage works.

‘‘A stormwater management service charge can only be spent on stormwater issues and should have at least been in the mix when developing the budget in 2009, but it wasn’t.

‘‘I tried to get it considered when developing the budget in 2010 but was outvoted by all.’’

Cr Wagstaff had the support of Cr Bev Giegerl, but the others, while agreeing that something needed to be done, argued that the residents could not be lumbered with another charge, given fears about the economy and the carbon tax.

Cr Vince Badalati said council needed to get a better feel for the state of the drains but to put $25 on top of what people are already paying was not on.

Cr Phil Sansom said Cr Wagstaff’s proposed levy could not be implemented without public consultation. He said extreme storms had put pressure on drainage systems in Sydney.

Mayor Steve McMahon said: ‘‘Times are tough and I will do anything I can do to try and ease the cost of living on our residents.’’

‘‘Where does it stop?’’ he asked.

‘‘Do we put an extra tax on everything after someone cries about it — a footpath tax, a road tax?’’

Cr Bill Pickering tried to salvage what could be saved from Cr Wagstaff’s attempt to fix the drainage system by proposing that the council ‘‘investigate’’ a stormwater management program funded by the existing infrastructure money, grant funding or through budget programming.

Cr Giegerl objected, telling the public gallery ‘‘you don’t want more investigation, you want a commitment’’.

People want action

Many of the people who attended Hurstville Council’s public meeting at Club Rivers — the second in its effort to take the council into the community — complained about stormwater and drainage failure during the recent downpours.

Harry and Valerie Burn, pensioners from Mortdale, said their Subaru was written off after being flooded in the basement car park of their apartment building.

Five other cars and a motorbike were also affected and some people had moved out of the building because they weren’t going to risk losing property again.

‘‘We had to get a new car and we are now thousands of dollars out of pocket,’’ Mr Burn said. ‘‘I want to know who will replace the next car for us.’’

Judith Sears, of Peakhurst Heights, said she couldn’t cope with her soggy backyard.

Several people from Oatley also complained about overflowing drains.

Where are the worst more stormwater and drainage failures?

Posted by at 24/04/2018
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