Tauranga ratepayers could be hit with a $1.74 million bill to connect parts of rural Matapihi into the Southern Pipeline that was currently under construction through the peninsula.
The council today voted 10-1 in favour of the financial arrangements in which Waikari Marae, Hungahungatoroa Marae and Matapihi's school and kohanga reo would not carry any of the capital costs of hooking into the sewer main.
The decision came at the same time as the council was in discussions on who owned the section of the pipeline's route from Matapihi Rd to SH29 at Te Maunga.
The council says the route was along an unformed road but adjacent landowners and others in the community dispute this.
Councillor Gail McIntosh also lifted the lid on problems with the project involving damage to the pipeline contractor's equipment. "That is not acceptable."
Today's decision was against the backdrop of years of Maori opposition to the project because of cultural concerns centred around human waste being carried up the middle of their their tribal rohe (lands).
Yesterday's decision also meant that the 60 homeowners living in the two marae zones would likewise escape paying a capital connection fee. If they agreed to meet the scheme's remaining charges by June 30 next year, each householder would be liable for a discounted city-wide development contribution of $500.
Read more: Rate rise likely for Tauranga residents
However if agreement was not reached with the householders until after June 30 they would have to pay the full development contribution of $3109.
Properties adjoining or adjacent to the planned route of the pipeline outside the marae zones could hook up but would have to pay the $3109 development contribution plus substanial on site connection costs.
All beneficiaries of connecting Matapihi into the Southern Pipeline would have to pay the council's wastewater uniform annual charge of $330 per ratepayer to fund day-to-day operational costs.
The report presented to the meeting said the scheme would increase the city's wastewater operational costs by $190,000 a year.
Councillor Steve Morris voted against the proposal which will go out for public consultation as part of the council's 2016-17 annual plan. He was concerned with the precedent it would set, including other marae within the city's boundary still on septic tanks.
Cr Morris asked which of the funding options set out in the agenda were broadly in line with the 2006 council resolution of full recovery of costs by direct and development contribution charges.
He was told that under this formula, 60 connections in Matapihi would have cost each property owner $32,000.