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Wastewater connections outside are of benefit for Russell

Andrew Riddell made this Official Information request to Far North District Council

This request has an unknown status. We're waiting for Andrew Riddell to read recent responses and update the status.

From: Andrew Riddell

Dear Far North District Council,

When the Russell wastewater scheme was approved, an area of benefit plan was produced and approved showing the specific properties that would be covered by the wastewater scheme, and which would be liable for a capital works levy towards the Russell wastewater scheme.

Please provide of all properties and/or wastewater connections to the Russell wastewater scheme from outside that area of benefit. I wish to know the location of each of these additional connections, and the date the connection was approved.

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Riddell

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From: Ask Us Team
Far North District Council

Thank you for contacting the Far North District Council. We have received
your message and a member of our customer service team will issue a
reference number for your enquiry within 5 working days.

If you feel that your enquiry requires urgent attention, please contact us
on our service number 0800 920 029 or 09 401 5200 – available 24 hours a
day, 7 days a week. 

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From: Ask Us Team
Far North District Council


Attachment image1554932711560.png
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Kia ora Andrew,

Thank you for your request received 7th April 2019.

Pursuant to the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act
1987, you will receive a reply within twenty working days of Council
receiving your request.

Please quote your customer reference RFS-3946720 in any future
correspondence concerning this matter.

We thank you for taking the time to contact us.  Please do not hesitate to
visit our website for more information [1]www.fndc.govt.nz, call our
friendly customer service staff on 0800 920 029 or 09 4015 200 or email
[2][Far North District Council request email].

Naku noa,
Phillippa

[3][IMG] Ask Us Team
District Services
Far North District Council
09 401 5200 or 24-hour Contact Centre 0800 920 029 |
[4][Far North District Council request email]

 

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From: Erica Cooney
Far North District Council


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Andrew Riddell

By email only to: [FOI #10030 email]

  

Dear Mr Riddell

 

Official information request: 3946720

 

I refer to your information request received 7 April 2019, which has been
referred to Legal Services for consideration in accordance with the
provisions of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act
1987 (“the LGOIMA”).

 

Information request

 

You noted: “When the Russell wastewater scheme was approved, an area of
benefit plan was produced and approved showing the specific properties
that would be covered by the wastewater scheme, and which would be liable
for a capital works levy towards the Russell wastewater scheme.”

 

“Please provide of all properties and/or wastewater connections to the
Russell wastewater scheme from outside that area of benefit. I wish to
know the location of each of these additional connections, and the date
the connection was approved.”

 

Council response

 

The information which you have requested simply cannot be made available
without the Far North District Council (the ‘Council’) carrying out
substantial collation and or research.

 

Consequently, Council has decided to refuse your request for these
administrative reasons and pursuant to section 17(f) of the LGOIMA. This
provides that:

 

Section 17 Refusal of requests

 

“A request […] may be refused only for 1 or more of the following reasons,
namely:

[…]

(f) that the information requested cannot be made available without
substantial collation or research: […] “

 

You have the right to seek a review by the Ombudsman of this decision.
Information about how to make a complaint is available at
[1]www.ombudsman.parliament.nz or Freephone 0800 802 602. 

 

 

Thank you for your enquiry.

 

Yours faithfully

 

Erica Cooney

Legal Services Officer

 

 

[2]FNDC Erica Cooney
logo Legal Services Officer
Corporate Services, Far North District Council  |  24-hour Contact
Centre 0800 920 029
ddi +6494015306   |   [email address]
  [3]Website  |   [4]Facebook  |  [5]LinkedIn   |   [6]Careers

 

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Far North District Council | Te Kaunihera o Tai Tokerau Ki Te Raki
Ph. 09 401 5200 | Fax. 09 401 2137 | Email. [Far North District Council request email]
Address. Memorial Avenue, Private Bag 752, Kaikohe 0440, New Zealand

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

References

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2. http://www.fndc.govt.nz/
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From: Erica Cooney
Far North District Council


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Attachment image001.png
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Attachment RFS 3949347 Andrew Riddell Attachments.pdf
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Andrew Riddell

By email only to: [FOI #10030 email]

 

 

Dear Mr Riddell

 

Official information request: RFS 3949347 – (Decision to refuse request –
process followed - all information re decision on earlier LGOIMA request
RFS 3946720)

 

I refer to your information request received 29 April 2019, which has been
referred to Legal Services for consideration in accordance with the
provisions of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act
1987 (“the LGOIMA”).

 

New official information request - RFS 3949347

You stated:

 

“Recently the District Council refused my request for a schedule of all
the properties that have joined the Russell Wastewater Scheme which were
located outside the area of benefit.

 

The District Council refused this request on the grounds that it would be
too big an exercise to assemble that information.

 

Please provide copies of all communications, whether internal to the
Council or with external parties, relating to the processing of, and
making a decision on, my request. Communications include all emails,
letter, file notes, records of phone calls and/or conversations, and
personal recollections.”

 

For clarity and ease of reference, I have included your original request
below (RFS 3946720), and Council’s decision in response (dated 16 April
2019) to not provide this information, as permitted by section 17(f) of
the LGOIMA.

 

Previous Information request - RFS 3946720

 

You noted: “When the Russell wastewater scheme was approved, an area of
benefit plan was produced and approved showing the specific properties
that would be covered by the wastewater scheme, and which would be liable
for a capital works levy towards the Russell wastewater scheme.”

 

“Please provide of all properties and/or wastewater connections to the
Russell wastewater scheme from outside that area of benefit. I wish to
know the location of each of these additional connections, and the date
the connection was approved.”

 

Council previous response - RFS 3946720

 

The information which you have requested simply cannot be made available
without the Far North District Council (the ‘Council’) carrying out
substantial collation and or research. Consequently, Council has decided
to refuse your request for these administrative reasons and pursuant to
section 17(f) of the LGOIMA. This provides that:

 

Section 17 Refusal of requests

“A request […] may be refused only for 1 or more of the following reasons,
namely:

[…]

(f) that the information requested cannot be made available without
substantial collation or research: […]”

 

Council response to new official information request - RFS 3949347

 

We have consulted and discussed this matter with the appropriate staff,
perused the relevant documentation in order to provide you with the
information that Council holds in respect of your request.

 

The Council’s decision to refuse to make available the requested official
information was primarily due to the administrative burden your request
posed the Council. It was large and broadly defined. Council took the
following factors into account in coming to the view that this particular
request would entail “substantial collation and research”; and in
accordingly, deciding that it should be refused under the statutory
provision of section 17(f) of the LGOIMA:

 

(1)          the amount of work involved in determining what information
falls within the scope of the request;

 

(2)          the difficulty involved in locating, researching or collating
the information;

 

(3)          the amount of documentation to be looked at;

 

(4)          the work time involved;

 

(5)          the nature of the resources and the personnel available to
process requests for information; and

 

(6)          the effect on other operations of the diversion of resources
to meet the request.

 

(7) (8)    In arriving at this outcome, Council also had due regard to
sections 17A and B of the LGOIMA (considerations (7) and (8)). I note that
after receiving Council’s response to RFS 3946720, you then lodged both
this RFS (RFS 3949347), and another that again related to the Russell
waste water connections (RFS 3949349).

 

Please find attached internal correspondence emails indicating the
difficulties Council faced in considering how to respond to your request.
Challenges included:

 

(9)          That it would take a significant amount of time collating all
new connections since the wastewater system was installed.

 

(10)        There have been a number of installations dating back to early
1992.

 

(11)        It would also be time-consuming cross checking the new
connections with plans/as-builts (as well as it being costly in terms of
work load establishing whether or not the corresponding plans/as-builts
exist in each case).

 

(12)        As referred to in (10) above, the wastewater system has been a
staged installation. Consequently, it is likely that A.o.Bs have been
extended in stages as well to reflect this. Accordingly, it would be
difficult to differentiate between whether Council has approved a new
connection that was outside the A.O.B from an initial stage of
installation, and then became part of a proposed extended A.O.B when
subsequent stages were installed). This links to point (14) below.

 

(13)        The ‘specialist’ person with the relevant knowledge/experience
who was tasked with dealing with your complex request, (such as in
extracting, cross-checking/reconciling and collating the appropriate
information) was under a significant workload at the time. Council
considered whether to engage additional staff; however this would no doubt
have taken longer, given these people were unfamiliar with the matter, and
in trying to locate and identify pertinent information, the ‘initial’
person managing the request would have needed to be involved in any case.
He did get another staff member to start collating a list, before the
magnitude of your request was realised.

 

Further, in determining the works/investigation required in order to
respond to your original request, the following elements were taken into
account:

 

(14)        If you meant the AoB agreed by Council in1992, nearly 27 years
ago (see applicable AoB map from 1992 attached). To provide this data,
Council would have had to map the original “area of benefit” line against
who currently pays what type of rates. This rating cross-referencing would
be necessary to show who is connected. Additionally, the address of the
ratepayer (i.e. the property owner) may not be the same as the connection
location. However, in any event, the original line (see attached map
referred to above) is not aligned with Council’s current rating policies.

 

(15)        There are also problems with interpreting your request as
referring to the current model where the “area of benefit” could be
described as those who pay capital rates for that area. To provide this
information, Council would be required to sift through approximately 10
years of connections data stored in Pathways (80-200 connections/year).
Council would then have to compare this located, extracted data with the
rating data and assess who was paying capital rates prior to their
connection. Before Council’s electronic documentation system (Pathways
(circa 2009)), there is no record of when any ‘new’ connections took place
- other than if/when it coincided with building or development (which
would in itself be an assumption). Council is unsure how these issues
would be tackled and if even these processes would be workable.

 

(16)        In addition, your original query required information on the
date. This exercise would also entail significant work to map out. Council
would need to figure out and remove the connections that are/were in the
original/current A.o.Bs.

(17)        Related to the cross-checking of the dates of each connection,
you also asked that Council record the location of each of these
connections falling within your request. These addresses would almost
certainly need to be redacted under the LGOIMA to ensure that people’s
personal information was not disclosed. If Council had decided to refuse
to make people’s personal information available to you on privacy grounds,
this would have been based on a consideration of the withholding provision
in section 7(2)(a) of the LGOIMA.

               

The legislation states:

Section 7(1) “Where this section applies, good reason for withholding
official information exists […]

Section 7(2)[…] if, and only if, the withholding of the information is
necessary to-

(a) protect the privacy of natural persons…; and , including that of
deceased natural persons […].”

(18)        The reasons for withholding in section 7 are subject to a
public interest test. Therefore this decision would need to be made only
after Council had balanced up, and found, there was no public interest in
releasing the respective property owner’s personal addresses that
outweighed the need to withhold this information. Council’s preliminary
view on this point was strongly that if there was any public interest, it
did not outweigh the need to protect people’s private information.  

 

(19)        The above point means that you would most probably not have
received a “schedule of all the properties that have joined the Russell
Wastewater Scheme which were located outside the area of benefit”. That
is, in effect, this privacy withholding ground, would essentially render
your request meaningless. Say however, if Council had decided to grant
your request in part, it would have needed to decide ‘how’ the information
would be released. Given the privacy problems noted above, it is likely
that even if the Council could possibly identify the relevant properties,
the only information the Council could release to you would be the
respective dates.

 

(20)        With all of the extraction, cross-referencing, collation,
redaction and reformatting the information involved (as noted above), your
LGOIMA request would virtually require the Council to ‘create’ information
in order to respond. It would necessitate the application of complex
skill, judgement and interpretation. The new information would, in
Council’s preliminary view, be fundamentally different to the existing
information.  Under the LGOIMA there is no obligation on Council to create
information. Accordingly, Council would also have reason to refuse your
request pursuant to section 17(e) of the LGOIMA.  This provides that

“A request […] may be refused only for 1 or more of the following reasons,
namely:[…]

(e) that the document alleged to contain the information requested does
not exist […].”

 

Endeavouring to access documentation relating to your request was also
impeded by factors including:

 

(21)        The historic nature of your request, involving more than 26
years of records.

 

(22)        Various personnel changes and building moves at Council.

 

(23)        The outsourcing of the digitisation of Council property
records.

 

(24)        Although the Council considered whether to fix a charge under
section 13 of the LGOIMA or to request an extension under section 14 of
the LGOIMA, the difficulties in coming up with the requested information
and, in the Council’s view, the unsurmountable privacy concerns, these
options were not seen as being feasible.

 

(25)        As explained below, while properties may appear to be
connected to the AoB, they may not necessarily be ‘using’ the Russell
Wastewater Scheme.

 

I believe it could be of assistance in responding to your request to
provide information about:   

·                     the extent of the “Area of Benefit” for the Russell
Sewerage Scheme, and

·                     the process for having a property outside the “Area
of Benefit” connected to the sewerage network.

 

The “Area of Benefit”

 

The “Area of Benefit” (AoB) is a term commonly used by Council staff and
the public to describe whether or not a property benefits from the
provision of wastewater services. The term “Area of Benefit” is not
defined or used in any formal Council policies or plans.

 

Whether or not a property benefits from the provision of wastewater
services is determined by the rates that they pay on the property. A
property capable of connecting to the sewerage scheme is subject to the
Availability Capital Rate for the scheme.  The following is an excerpt
from the Far North District Council Long Term Plan 2018-28 (pg 176):

 

A property paying “Sewerage Capital Russell Availability Rate” can expect
that a single residential connection to the Russell Sewerage Scheme will
be available at the time the property is developed.

 

New Connections

 

If a property is not paying either “Sewerage Capital Russell Availability
Rate” or “Sewerage Capital Russell Connected Rate”, it is not entitled to
a connection as a right. If such a property wishes to connect then the
property owner can make an enquiry about the specific property and nature
of the development to the Council.

 

The process for considering these requests is not defined in a Council
Policy although this has been identified as a piece of work that needs to
be completed.  A formal policy would give the public more confidence in
the process and provide transparency.

 

The Infrastructure and Asset Management team review such requests and
consider factors such as:

·                Zoning of the property according to the Operative
District Plan and Proposed District Plan (if such one exists at the time
of the request).

·                Distance to the nearest public sewer.

·                Capacity of the downstream network.

·                Capacity and performance of the wastewater treatment
plant receiving the discharge.

·                Information on the area intended to be serviced by the
original scheme.

·                Practical alternatives for the provision of wastewater
treatment and disposal for the development.

·                Environmental impact and risks of the connection.

·                Any other considerations deemed appropriate at the time.

 

I hope that this response conveys the effort Council went to in seeking to
respond to this complex request.  Please find attached copies of
documentation Council holds relating to this. The red circles and lines on
the attached coloured maps show the wastewater manholes and pipelines. The
red unbroken area line depict the current rateable area.

 

Please note that Council has decided to  redact people’s details on the
emails to protect their privacy, pursuant to section 7(2)(a) of the
LGOIMA. As noted above, this decision was made after considering, and
finding, that there was no public interest in releasing the information
that outweighed the need to withhold the information.

  

You have the right to seek a review of this decision by the Ombudsman.
Information about how to make a complaint is available at
[1]www.ombudsman.parliament.nz or Freephone 0800 802 602.

 

 

Thank you for your enquiry.

 

Yours faithfully

 

 

Erica Cooney

Legal Services Officer

 

[2]FNDC Erica Cooney
logo Legal Services Officer
Corporate Services, Far North District Council  |  24-hour Contact
Centre 0800 920 029
[email address]
  [3]Website  |   [4]Facebook  |  [5]LinkedIn   |   [6]Careers

 

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Get it done online at your convenience, visit our website -
www.fndc.govt.nz

show quoted sections

Far North District Council | Te Kaunihera o Tai Tokerau Ki Te Raki
Ph. 09 401 5200 | Fax. 09 401 2137 | Email. [Far North District Council request email]
Address. Memorial Avenue, Private Bag 752, Kaikohe 0440, New Zealand

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

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2. http://www.fndc.govt.nz/
3. http://www.fndc.govt.nz/
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From: Erica Cooney
Far North District Council

Tçnâ koe Mr Riddle
 
As discussed this afternoon,
 
Official information request re RFS3949349
 
I refer to your official information request received 29 April 2019 for:
“copies of all communications, inquiries, and/or requests (including
applications) the District Council has received for a waterwater
connection on the Russell Wharf since 2010, including any recommendations
and decisions on any requests or applications that have been received.
This includes any communications, inquiries and/or requests (including
applications) from Far North Holdings Limited for a wastewater connection
for a boat pump out facility and/or for a cafe, and any recommendations
and decisions on such requests or applications.
Note that communications includes emails, letter, reports, decisions,
dates and records of meetings and/or phone calls, file notes, and personal
recollection by any person involved.”
 
The Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act requires that
we advise you of our decision on your request no later than 20 working
days after the day we received your request. Unfortunately it will not be
possible to meet that time limit and we are therefore writing to notify
you of the extension of the time to make our decision, to Monday 17 June
2019.
 
This extension is necessary because your request has been for a
potentially sizeable amount of information that has also proved to be
difficult to locate. Therefore meeting the original time limit has not
been possible. The matter necessitates substantial searching from various
sources, and we do not yet have the information necessary to provide you
with an informed and proper response on your request.
 
You have the right to seek a review by the Ombudsman of this decision.
Information about how to make a complaint is available at
[1]www.ombudsman.parliament.nz or Freephone 0800 802 602. 
 
Ngâ mihi nui
 
Erica Cooney
 
 

Erica Cooney
Legal Services Officer
[2][IMG] Corporate Services, Far North District Council  |  24-hour
Contact Centre 0800 920 029
[email address]
  [3]Website  |   [4]Facebook  |  [5]LinkedIn   |   [6]Careers

 
 
  ________________________________  
Get it done online at your convenience, visit our website -
[7]www.fndc.govt.nz

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Far North District Council | Te Kaunihera o Tai Tokerau Ki Te Raki
Ph. 09 401 5200 | Fax. 09 401 2137 | Email. [Far North District Council request email]
Address. Memorial Avenue, Private Bag 752, Kaikohe 0440, New Zealand

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

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2. http://www.fndc.govt.nz/
3. http://www.fndc.govt.nz/
4. http://www.facebook.com/FarNorthDistrict...
5. http://www.linkedin.com/company/far-nort...
6. http://fndc.govt.applyfirst.net/
7. http://www.fndc.govt.nz/

Link to this

From: Erica Cooney
Far North District Council


Attachment image003.png
3K Download

Attachment RFS 3949349 Council Final response to Mr Andrew Riddell.pdf
2.1M Download View as HTML

Attachment RFS 3949349 Finalising LGOIMA Request Mr Andrew Riddell List of People s roles.docx
14K Download View as HTML

Attachment RFS 3949349 Attachments re Final response to Mr Andrew Riddell.pdf
23.6M Download View as HTML


Tçnâ koe Mr Riddell

Please find attached the Far North District Council’s further response and
related attachments in respect of your LGOIMA request – RFS 3949349. I
sincerely apologise for the lengthy delay in getting this to you and
express my appreciation for your patience in this.

 

Nâku noa, nâ

 

Erica Cooney

 

[1]FNDC Erica Cooney
logo Senior Solicitor
Corporate Services, Far North District Council  |  24-hour Contact
Centre 0800 920 029
DDI +6494015306   |   [email address]
  [2]Website  |   [3]Facebook   |  [4]LinkedIn   |  [5]Careers

 

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Get it done online at your convenience, visit our website -
www.fndc.govt.nz

show quoted sections

Far North District Council | Te Kaunihera o Tai Tokerau Ki Te Raki
Ph. 09 401 5200 | Fax. 09 401 2137 | Email. [Far North District Council request email]
Address. Memorial Avenue, Private Bag 752, Kaikohe 0440, New Zealand

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.fndc.govt.nz/
2. http://www.fndc.govt.nz/
3. http://www.facebook.com/FarNorthDistrict...
4. http://www.linkedin.com/company/far-nort...
5. http://fndc.govt.applyfirst.net/

Link to this

Andrew Riddell left an annotation ()

I am unable to open the roughly 20 MB pdf of the documents requested.

Can open the other pdf documents provided as part of the response by the Fra North District Council.

Link to this

From: Andrew Riddell

Kia ora Erica,

Could you please resend the 20 MB file as a pdf?

It appears to have been sent in some other format and I cannot open it.

Thanks,

Andrew Riddell

Link to this

From: Andrew Riddell

Kia ora Erica,

Could you please resend the 20 MB file as a pdf?

It appears to have been sent in some other format and I cannot open it.

Thanks,

Andrew Riddell

Link to this

From: Erica Cooney
Far North District Council


Attachment RFS 3949349 Council Final response to Mr Andrew Riddell.pdf
2.1M Download View as HTML

Attachment RFS 3949349 Attachments re Final response to Mr Andrew Riddell.pdf
23.6M Download View as HTML

Attachment RFS 3949349 Finalising LGOIMA Request Mr Andrew Riddell List of People s roles.pdf
215K Download View as HTML


Kia Ora Mr Riddell,
I am unsure as to why the attachments cannot be opened as I have tested them in PDF and had no problem. I'll try to send them again and hopefully, fingers crossed, you are able to access them this time. If there is still an issue, please let me know asap as Council can provide access to this information electronically by Objective Connect.

Kind regards

Erica Cooney
Senior Solicitor
Corporate Services, Far North District Council
+6494015306 | [email address]
www.fndc.govt.nz

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Erica Cooney
Far North District Council


Attachment RFS 3949349 Council Final response to Mr Andrew Riddell.pdf
2.1M Download View as HTML

Attachment RFS 3949349 Attachments re Final response to Mr Andrew Riddell.pdf
23.6M Download View as HTML

Attachment RFS 3949349 Finalising LGOIMA Request Mr Andrew Riddell List of People s roles.pdf
215K Download View as HTML


Kia Ora Mr Riddell,

I am unsure as to why the attachments cannot be opened as I have tested
them in PDF and had no problem. I'll try to send them again and hopefully,
fingers crossed,  you are able to access them this time. If there is still
an issue, please let me know asap as Council can provide access to this
information electronically by Objective Connect.

 

Kind regards

 

Erica Cooney

Senior Solicitor

Corporate Services, Far North District Council

+6494015306 | [email address]

www.fndc.govt.nz

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Andrew Riddell

Mōrena Erica Cooney,

I still cannot open the 23.6 MB "Attachments re Final Response".

I can open the other two pdfs without trouble.

Could you text me the Objective Connect link. I think you know my mobile number.

Thanks
Andrew Riddell

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