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Published: 2016-03-14 00:00:00

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE: A study has found that Port Waikato, Raglan Harbour and Aotea Harbour is at a low-risk of inundation for a tsunami, but waves could cause strong surges and currents.

Last Thursday (10 March), the council signed off on its 2016/17 Annual Plan consultation document, which includes an amendment to the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan.

The council is proposing to collect a per property rate of between $2.07 and $3.74 to establish a regional services fund to spread the cost of helping to fund services available to everyone in the Waikato. It will replace grants local councils may already be providing.

“A regional rate will streamline the collection and distribution of monies to these life saving services and enable local government funds to be delivered in the most effective and efficient way,” said council chairperson, Paula Southgate.

“In response to submissions we received last year and ongoing discussion with the Waikato Mayoral Forum, we’ve worked together to develop the three options we’re consulting on. But we really want to hear what our residents and ratepayers think of this proposal,” Cr Southgate said.

If the council decides to go ahead with establishing a regional services fund for the next two years, it would also lead to a change to the regional council’s Revenue and Financing Policy, which is why an amendment to the long term plan is being proposed.

As part of its 2016/17 Annual Plan, the council is asking landowners to agree on the works programme and funding policy for a $4.28 million flood protection project at Tauhei, near Morrinsville.

The council is also seeking submissions on a change to the way it charges fresh water take consent holders for state of the environment monitoring and research it undertakes. All three options maintain the basis of setting charges on the volume of water allocated per day in each consent. Two of the options include a fixed fee to reflect that all consent holders receive benefit from the council’s work in this area.

“We’re excited about the year ahead and the work our council is doing to unlock the potential of the region. But right now our residents and ratepayers have an opportunity to be involved in decision making and we encourage them to share their opinions on our proposals by making a submission,” she said.

Consultation closes at 4pm on Monday, 11 April. The consultation document and supporting information is available online at www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/annualplan.

Meanwhile, the council has kept a tight focus on costs for 2016/17 and is proposing to collect about $80.5 million in rates revenue.

“While this equates to a reduction in rates revenue from existing ratepayers of about 1.3 per cent, some people will experience a rates rise as a result of increased property valuations in the past year,” said Cr Southgate. “This is especially the case in Hamilton, where residential properties over $300,000 could see their regional council invoice rise by between 4 and nearly 8 per cent, which would be up to about $40.”

Changes to the Local Government Act in 2014 now mean annual plan consultation only occurs if there are significant or material changes to the long term plan. In addition, the consultation document is the only publication produced to inform discussion and submissions on annual plan or long term plan proposals.