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$1.5 million cuts proposed to pest management budget

Regional pest management strategy budget cuts worth just over $1.5 million in 2009-2010 have been put forward for discussion by Environment Waikato’s regional pest management committee.

At its meeting yesterday, the committee formally endorsed the revised 2009-2010 operational plan for consideration by council later this month.

The cuts are being proposed as part of EW’s attempts to trim spending in response to the difficult economic times.

If endorsed by full council, the revised plan will be put out for public consultation next month as part of EW’s Long-Term Council Community Plan process.

Some $1.085 million in spending cuts were identified by early December. They included a $350,000 reduction in spending to maintain pest control gains around Pirongia and Mt Kokako.

Since December, another $420,000 in cuts have been identified including a $180,000 reduction in possum control at Whangamarino and Hakiramata. Another $13,000 would be saved cutting EW’s ability to respond to complaints about magpies and wasps.

Moving endorsement of the revised plan so that it could be discussed by full council, Cr Andra Neeley said she was "sad" to do so after reading the "very unfortunate report" outlining the proposed cuts. "I move it with great regret."

She said she hoped the extra $420,000 in cuts identified since early December would be looked at particularly closely by council, as they could put at risk the benefits of large amounts of pest control work done previously.

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