Environment Waikato’s Annual Plan approved today for the coming financial year includes more work to improve water quality, address coastal erosion and control flooding. At the same meeting, the Regional Council took special action to assist victims of the recent flooding and severe weather events.
Chairman Neil Clarke said that when the Annual Plan was being prepared last year, Council members found that additional work would be required to protect Lake Taupo’s water quality, to enhance navigation safety on regional waterways, to increase flood protection and to strengthen regional safety procedures. “We are confronting some of the extremely challenging environmental issues facing the Region,” Clarke said. “Nevertheless, we have been able to keep rates on target by holding our costs to a minimum.”
Under the plan adopted today, the average regional ratepayer will see an increase of 9.59 percent in their general rate. Council’s Strategic Plan predicted a 9.75 percent increase. The 9.59 percent general rate increase will raise $2.3 million to help pay for the additional work being done in the Region.
Chairman Clarke noted that the Regional Council has held rates down for nearly a decade. It is only with the increase adopted today that the general rate revenue has significantly surpassed the 1990 level, after accounting for inflation.
Beyond the general rate, the rest of the Council’s income comes mainly from separate rates, direct charges, and investments. Chairman Clarke noted that a proportion of the separate rates that will now be collected by Environment Waikato for Project Watershed was previously collected by local authorities for similar work.
Although the performance of Environment Waikato’s investment fund was less than expected this year, since its inception it has performed well, averaging about a 9 percent rate of return annually. This contrasts with 4-7 percent for funds invested only in New Zealand markets. Nevertheless, the Council has made some adjustments to the investment policy that are designed to increase the probability of getting a 7.5 percent rate of return 19 years out of 20.
Highlights of the Annual Plan approved today include:
- Clean Streams, a $10 million, 10-year project to help landowners protect streams and river banks through fencing and planting
- Project Watershed, a major flood protection, soil conservation and river management project in the Waikato and Waipa catchments, will be implemented this year
- A draft plan to be released for consultation later this year detailing ways to protect the water quality of Lake Taupo
- A waste reduction strategy to be launched by the end of the year as the Regional Council plays a more active role in waste management.
In a separate action, the Council voted to provide emergency assistance to the areas hardest hit by recent storms and other events. Council will contribute $10,000 to mayoral relief funds for victims in Thames-Coromandel, and $5,000 each in South Waikato and Hauraki. In addition, Chairman Clarke said Council would review its policies to examine procedures for assisting victims of future emergencies.
Copies of the Annual Plan can be obtained from Environment Waikato's website www.ew.govt.nz, or by calling the Freephone at 0800 800 401.
For more information contact:
Ph (07) 856 7184