$940 bill sent in grass row

By Zaryd Wilson

3 comments
HIGH COST: Rangitikei District Council had the lawn at Don McMillan's Marton property mowed and forwarded him the invoice. PHOTO/ BEVAN CONLEY
HIGH COST: Rangitikei District Council had the lawn at Don McMillan's Marton property mowed and forwarded him the invoice. PHOTO/ BEVAN CONLEY

A ratepayer says he will not be paying the $939.50 Rangitikei District Council has charged him for clearing his overgrown lawn.

Whanganui man Don McMillan owns a property on Mill St in Marton and in November received a letter from the council asking him to cut the grass because it had become a fire hazard.

"I've got high blood pressure, so I just couldn't cope with the lawns any more, so I just gave up on them," he said.

He said he had got a quote to have them mown, which was $30, but a neighbour offered to cut it back and take the grass trimmings away. Mr McMillan said some of the grass had been cut but not all of it.

Since the first letter he received two more notices from the council before a contractor came in and cut the grass.

On April 12 the council sent him a bill for $939.50 for: "clearing of the section and removal of fire hazard."

Under the Local Government Act 2002, councils can require the removal of "any matter on the land if the growth or matter is likely to become a source of danger from fire".

Mr McMillan said he accepted the council could legally declare the grass a fire hazard and come in and cut it but said the charge was outrageous.

"I might pay the $30, which is what the local chap offered to do it for," he said.

Council environmental services team leader Johan Cullis said the cost of getting a contractor to clear the 1586sq m property was $837.50 while $102 was for staff time, which included two site visits.

"Council obtains a quotation for all work and will only undertake work deemed justified," Mr Cullis said.

"It should be noted that the correspondence to rectify the fire hazard was sent to Mr McMillan at the end of spring, start of summer," Mr Cullis said. The property was mowed during the prohibited/restricted fire season for Rangitikei District Council, he added.

In March, a Rangitikei resident sent a $7000 bill to the council for mowing the grass berm outside their property.

The invoice sent in by the ratepayer was for 10 years' work keeping the berm tidy. While berms were council-owned land it did not consider itself liable to pay for their upkeep and said it would not be paying it.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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