Council to decide whether to strip $7m from residents
SUNSET Strip residents will find out this Wednesday if a Special Charge Scheme costing property owners an average of $20,000 each will get the green light.
The scheme will cost the 345 Sunset Strip property owners collectively $7.158 million and involves drainage works and road upgrades.
The scheme was thought to be dead in the water until Cr Stephen Fullarton raised the issue at a council meeting in May.
It’s been recommended to councillors this week to proceed with the scheme and consider funding it in next year’s budget.
Sunset Strip Road Watch Collective member Ann Kennedy said her neighbours would be forced to sell up if the scheme was introduced.
She said Sunset Strip is a low-income area with many pensioners.
“We’re not going to give up and I don’t want to lose my neighbours,” Ann said.
“How much money can you drag out of pensioners and low-income workers?”
Sealing the roads would increase property prices, but would do little for pensioners unwilling to move out of their homes.
Ann moved to Sunset Strip 17 years ago, happy to put up with the dirt roads.
“When I hit those dirt roads, I know I’m in the country. Is it good for my car? No.
“I chose to live here. It’s farmland, every where’s dusty.”
She suggested a dust suppressant such as a prima seal for Sunset Strip.
Sunset Strip resident Rod Taylor lives on a corner block and says he was quoted almost $40,000 for road sealing and drainage works.
He says there is a type of prima seal on the road where he is and while the road needs repairing, he can still drive on it.
“They come out and fix the holes and then water gets underneath them and breaks up, but that happens anywhere you try and fix a hole.”
The retiree will also be paying more than most people because he’s on a corner block.
“To me it’s a hell of lot of money to cough up. It’ll be just under $40,000.
“But then my neighbour across the road, he’s facing a similar cost as well and if they’re gonna do the roads, he’s just gonna sell-up and he’s in his 60s.”
Rod’s happy with the condition of the road and would instead like to see improvements to the drainage.
“When we bought this place 24 or 25 years ago, this was all dirt and there was dust and it was bad.
“It’s probably just the lack of maintenance over the years. I’ve flooded here a couple of times with heavy rains across the front lawn and to the shed.”
A resident of nearly 25 years, he says he’s not going anywhere.
Cr Fullarton’s reasons
The previous council abandoned the scheme in June 2016, at a loss of more than $160,000.
Cr Stephen Fullarton raised the issue at a council meeting in May.
He asked for a report to be prepared advising of the process and resources required to progress the Special Charge Scheme in Sunset Strip.
At the May meeting, he acknowledged there would be a lot of issues, including the balance between the financial burden of the landowners and the “substantial” community gain.
He claimed he was approached by a couple of ladies who live in Sunset Strip who were told by their doctors to move out because their health was being seriously affected by the dust.
Regarding objections, Cr Fullarton cited the example of Pine Avenue in Cowes, where people were up in arms about a Special Charge Scheme.
But following the upgrade, he claimed people came forward and said how wrong they were and apologised for being upset.
In May, Mayor Cr Pamela Rothfield and Cr Bruce Kent voted against the motion to prepare a report into the Special Charge Scheme at Sunset Strip.
Issue for next year
The council can decide to proceed with the scheme but as the Budget 2017-18 has already been adopted, it would be an issue for the drafting of next year’s budget.
The council officers recommend council consider allocating funding and resources for the scheme in next year’s budget.
Even if councillors vote in favour of the motion, council still needs to put a formal vote to all 345 property owners and gain at least 50 per cent approval.
Councillors will vote on accepting the recommendation at a meeting on Wednesday, July 19.
Another option would be to dump the scheme.
The council could only progress the project if 70 per cent of property owners agree to pay for the roads and drainage upgrade.