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Byron Shire
July 4, 2022

Cr Ekins’ urgency motion regarding Lismore’s water meter reading and rates

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At Tuesday evening’s Lismore Council meeting, Cr Vanessa Ekins asked to move an urgency motion. It was a request for a report coming to the April meeting to outline the general water and sewer rate relief options for flood-affected properties, including any government assistance and implications for council’s budget.

Meter readings in Lismore

Cr Ekins said the reason the motion was urgent was because she wanted to move immediately that Council waive the water rates.

‘We discussed it at our workshop the other night and I understand that there are budget implications and it makes sense for our staff to prepare that and inform us in April, but the reason I wanted to put this up tonight, Mr Mayor, is because I understand that council staff are currently going and reading meters and there is a huge amount of disquiet down in the community while people are hosing out their houses and other people are accessing water meters everywhere and people have got gurneys and all sorts of services are accessing people’s water systems – people are seriously nervous about what their water rates are going to be, and then to see council staff walking around and reading those meters, is fuelling quite a bit of disquiet.

‘So I wanted it on the record tonight that we’re going to address that issue in some form – that’s why I think it’s urgent.

Cr Krieg agreed that the matter was urgent but would not allow Cr Ekins’ motion. ‘It is definitely a matter that will be brought up in the April meeting,’ he said.

Cr Ekins questioned that if it was urgent why would the Mayor not allow an urgency motion?

Cr Krieg said he would not to allow it as an urgency motion because it was something that will be discussed. ‘We need to get the finances before we can [discuss].’

Cr Ekins said the urgency motion was asking for a report on what the rate relief is and what the options were. ‘I just want to make sure that we actually get a report that looks at the options so that people know we’re thinking about it, because what’s happening down there at the moment is our staff are going around reading water meters, and people think they’re going to get a huge bill for water they didn’t even use –  someone else down the street might have used.’

The need to put out publicity

Cr Krieg asked the General Manager to respond – John Walker said he would address the issue of reading the meters and the need to put out some publicity. ‘What the staff are doing is in fact checking all the meters. That’s our primary purpose, to check the meters and the infrastructure and make sure they’re fine and whilst they’re there, they’re reading the meter as well.

‘There is absolutely no intention to send out bills or to do anything with it. The intention has been misinterpreted. I understand why. I can clearly understand that and we will try and get some publicity out there. I’ll make sure that people understand what it is – but we do need to check the meters just as a matter of asset maintenance.’

No bills will be sent out

Cr Ekins asked for clarity. ‘So, the General Manager has just indicated that no bills will be sent out?’

Mr Walker said that was correct. ‘We will not send any bills out for water at all until such time as we’re positioned to know what the ramifications are. It will not happen.’

Cr Krieg then said he was disallowing the motion because the matter was already being considered. ‘We’re already going to do it.’

Cr Ekins stressed that there wasn’t any evidence for that apart from someone’s word.

‘I appreciate that,’ said the Mayor. ‘I’m not going to allow the motion. You’re going to have to take me on my word Councillor Ekins.’

Cr Ekins asked: ‘When will the media go out to reassure people that they won’t be billed for water until we’ve looked at the options for them?’

Cr Kreig said that the release would go out the next day (Wednesday, March 23). ‘We’ll guarantee that.’

The Echo is yet to receive a media release from Council about the meter reading and water rates.


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