Concerns about Kapiti water meter billing and rebates

Press Release – Jackie Elliott
“Kapiti Coast District Council is hurtling, eyes wide open, into the biggest public relations disaster in its history, “says Districtwide Councillor Jackie Elliott, “that is assuming the tree prosecution and coastal lines debacle can be topped. “

“This time the victims will be every resident, tenant, landlord and business owner who has concerns about their impending water meter billing.”

Today Councillors attended a twice rescheduled half hour briefing on the fine points of rates remissions. However it raised more questions than it answered.

“While it is commendable that there is a $200.000 remission fund for hardship, KCDC will turn into a defacto WINZ office, with the eligibility criteria based on eligibility for family tax credits, many Kapiti households simply aren’t.

“Landlords needing to apply for water remission have to prove that their tenant’s only source of income is a Government paid benefit or pension, raising immediate privacy issues.

“Despite being liable for all fixed charges, landlords will also be legally liable for unpaid water usage by tenants, so tenants will be liable for usage on top of their rent without legally receiving the quarterly account to monitor usage or leaks.

“A household of six or more will be eligible for water remissions that will reduce their costs below the level of any other household size, with their special $50,000 fund.

“Considering our large older community, I am continuing to lobby Council for a similar dedicated fund for those with medical and mobility issues requiring nursing at home. I was told today those vulnerable residents will have to apply for the general community fund once a year in April.” says Cr Elliott.

“It is a pity for those whose diagnosis does not fall within the desired timeline, as the annual rates remission fund has previously been expended within a month.

“There was no time for further clarification for those in rented accommodation and their landlords, who have been contacting me for help. According to staff, I am to advise the many who are emailing me, to go to the Tenancy Tribunal for advice. ” says Cr Elliott.

” Many residents, including all of Paekakariki are waiting for their first trial bill, enabling them to reduce their usage and fix leaks. They should have received two by July 1st when usage measurement proceeds. But despite the delay in trial billing, and the confusion in the community, staff were resistant to delaying the scheduled billing start date of August 1st.”says Cr Elliott.

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2 comments:

  1. pax, 30. May 2014, 21:59

    The KCDC’s cost control problem extends to the water rates billing.

    The first Trial Water Meter Reading arrived a little while ago: it’s a prototype for the coming bills. It’s three pages of laser printed in full colour on both sides. The bill itself is printed with a solid blue image with the text unprinted white. Anyone checked the price of colour laser printer toner cartridges recently?

    It’s plain that there has been no effort applied to make the billing system cost-effective.

    There’s another problem with the water meters which presents a public safety issue: The meter can only deliver about half the flow that the connection could supply before the meter was installed. It’s a restrictor.

    The garden hose is the first line of defence against fire, and this restriction severely compromises this defence.

     
  2. Mayor Ross Church, 31. May 2014, 22:12

    The press release from Cr Elliott hasn’t quite grasped the facts around the new remission policy.
    I recommend that anyone who is unsure about water meters contacts the council directly, and our staff will happily explain everything to you – whether tenant, landlord, or living in your own home.
    We are also happy to arrange for one of our staff to visit and discuss ways to save water with you.
    In simple terms, our council is moving from a fixed annual charge for water, to a mix of fixed and volumetric – where you pay for what you use. By definition, large households will generally use more water than average, so their costs will go up.
    To help with the impacts of this change, we are offering a new remission for large vulnerable households. This $50,000 fund is a first in New Zealand, and will offer a partial remission on water rates. This is in addition to the existing two funds: $125,000 for any household for whom rates (including water rates) is more than 5% of their income; and $25,000 for households who have incurred one-off costs due to health or related factors. Again, council staff would be pleased to discuss these with residents and ratepayers, to ensure everyone who is eligible can benefit from these funds.

     

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