Kerikeri residents will have to pay an annual fee of $1073 if they are in the area covered by the town's new sewerage scheme, whether they connect to the system or not.
The Far North District Council last week issued a letter to residents of an area affected by Kerikeri's new $23.7 million wastewater treatment plant expected to be completed by October 2017.
But the letter has been slammed by some residents after it effectively gave them only a few days to consider their options.
The two options on offer to private and commercial property owners are to agree to connect to the sewerage network, or not, and according to the letter a decision is required either way by tomorrow.
However the letter, dated August 24, wasn't received by the ratepayers until a week later and many are upset at the short timeframe allowed for decision-making.
The council had included $23.7m for the project in its long-term plan, and would meet the cost via a targeted rate and a Ministry of Health subsidy, although the final cost would not be known until the design and engineering plans are developed.
One of the affected property owners is David Clendon, Northland List MP for the Green Party, who said the delay meant there was "effectively only four working days at best in which to make what is a significant decision".
Council project manager Arthur Boyce said that as a result of the delay it was now "a bit flexible" on the return date but he did not supply a specific timeframe.
Whether connecting or not, all property owners will have to pay an annual capital rate fee of $1073 which is set under the Long Term Plan 2015-2025.
Connected properties will have to pay an annual operating rate fee of $487 plus GST in the first full year of operation, which Mr Boyce said would be reviewed "periodically".
Property owners wanting to connect will have to reach agreement with the council over installing a low-pressure pump station or a gravity-feed pipe and that could depend on the site's location.
The council said the majority of homes within the scheme's expanded area could be serviced by a domestic pumping station with a single pump and 900 litres of emergency storage.
The council and the ministry will cover that cost plus 43 per cent of the private drainage work needed between the house and the new wastewater reticulation.
Although it will vary, the estimated cost of the private drainage is $1120 plus GST.
Property owners not wishing to connect to the scheme, however, have been advised they could pay as much as $12,000 if they opt in later and could be forced on to the public system anyway, pursuant to section 181 of the Local Government Act 2002.
Mr Clendon said that's excessive, designed to put pressure on residents and tantamount to bullying.
"I priced the pump hardware required at $1000 and asked how much the consenting permit would be and council couldn't tell me," he said.
Mr Boyce said the council was trying to encourage residents to connect "whilst contractors are in the town as there will be economies of scale if we can have everyone connect at the same time".
If people connect at a later date those benefits would not be available.