Cross-lease meter issue back in spotlight

​​23 November 2017

Waipa District Councillors will decide on Tuesday how to recover the cost of water from properties without their own dedicated water meter.

Around seven per cent of properties connected to the Waipa town supply were built under rules which no longer apply. Unlike freehold titles which have paid for a dedicated meter and private pipe, the 1,000 or so 'complex' properties – often older cross-lease units or flats -  share a single water supply along with shared assets like driveways and fences.   

Because more than one property is connected to the supply, Council originally proposed splitting the cost of water equally among connected neighbours. But in April, elected members directed staff to investigate and cost other options.

At Tuesday's Council meeting, staff will present four options:

Option A) Do not put water meters on 'complex' properties and instead, continue to charge the property owners for water using a Uniform Annual Charge (currently $405.20 per year). Implementation costs would be minimal.

Option B) Split the bill equally between those properties connected to the meter. This is what Council originally proposed. Under this option, Council would pay for a new dedicated metered connection at the road boundary. However, property owners would pay for any changes to private plumbing needed to connect to the meter. Some property owners have already taken up this offer. There would be a cost to customise the billing system and Council would cover the cost of new metered connections for those who wanted them.

Option C) Install one meter at the gate and an individual meter to each separate unit or flat. This would put all property owners on the same footing but legally would only be possible if all neighbours who co-owned the cross-lease property agreed to it. This would cost an estimated $3.2 million (about $3,400 per flat or unit) with the cost borne by all Waipa ratepayers connected to the town supply.  

Option D) Install a meter and a dedicated private pipe to all complex properties. Legally, this would only be possible if all those who co-owned the property agreed to it. It would put all Waipa property owners on the same footing with each house, flat, unit or business having its own water meter. This would cost an estimated $5.7 million (nearly $6,000 per flat or unit) with the cost borne by all Waipa ratepayers connected to the town supply.  

Staff are recommending option B, as originally proposed earlier in the year.

Project delivery manager Lorraine Kendrick said there was no "silver bullet" and Council needed to deal with a historical issue in a way that was fair to all district ratepayers, not just those directly impacted. 

She said many other councils in New Zealand had faced, or will face a similar issue and that each had approached it differently.

"We need a solution that is technically and legally possible, encourages responsible water use and is practical and cost-effective to administer. But at the end of day, elected members will make the decision they think is best."

The decision on what option to use will be made at next Tuesday's Council meeting (November 28).  The meeting begins at 9am and the public are welcome to attend.

Media enquiries, contact Jeanette Tyrrell 027 5077 599 
Page reviewed: 23 Nov 2017 4:24pm