Bathurst Sewer Access Charge

Public Notice

Open letter to Bathurst Regional Councillors.

In regard to Bathurst Regional Council’s application of the Sewer Access Charge to Commercial rate Payers , Council’s publicity on the matter when this Charge was introduced in July 2004 states –

“Non Residential (Commercial) customers with higher land values but small connection sizes and/or small water consumption discharged into the sewer  Will most likely face lower sewer bills.”

      COMMENTNo such thing happened here in Bathurst. The Sewer Charge actually increased by several hundred percent even though Council adopted the following.

“Base sewerage access charges on the peak load the discharger places on the sewerage system. Such dischargers should therefore have the option of providing for Council’s consideration an expert report to establish the peak load in equivalent tenements (ETs) their operations place on the sewerage system. In the absence of such a report, the Council can determine the access charge on the basis of the square of the service connection size times the  discharge factor. This is the method adopted by Council.” Council imposes the charge in accordance with the second part of this policy,  “on the basis of the square of the service connection size times the discharge factor”.  Council ignores the qualifier of that method, which is,  "In the absence of such a report”.

To achieve this, Council has simply refused to acknowledge our “expert reports” as per the Commercial rate payer’s right expressed in the first part of the policy. Council maintains that this avenue is not available to us. In Orange where the Guidelines for this matter were properly comprehended, the Sewer Access Charge was implemented in accordance with the lawful Guidelines. The result was that the Commercial Sewer Rate in Orange did in fact decrease.

The same was predicted and advertised in 2004 by Bathurst Regional Council for Bathurst Commercial rate payers! This decrease in the Sewer Charge was to have been a natural consequence of the NSW Government’s Fair User Pays system and the Guidelines issued on the matter.

These Guidelines state that the Sewer Access Charge for Commercial Ratepayers should be comparable to the Residential Charge, reflect the actual load put on the sewer system and also reflect Council’s actual cost of providing the service.

Councillors, please explain how it can be lawful to refuse the Commercial ratepayer’s access to the right to have an expert’s report accepted by Council, as per Council’s adopted policy.

Ray Carter

0407 258 882

The right to have an expert assess the peak load put on the sewer system assessed is of course the means by which the non-residential ratepayer would be fairly treated.