Waikato Regional Council yesterday approved a new rates remission policy that will give some landowners a rates reduction in return for protecting significant natural areas (SNAs).
Owners of sites of regional significance could be eligible for a rates reduction if they have an agreed management plan designed to protect areas of native bush and significant habitats for native species.
The amount of the rates reduction will be determined by the ranking of the SNA within the local council area.
The council also resolved to apply a further 10 per cent penalty to unpaid rates, although no penalties are charged if ratepayers talk to staff about payment plans before they miss payments.
“We haven’t made this decision to increase the penalty for unpaid rates lightly,” said chairman Peter Buckley.
“However, ratepayers who enter into an agreed payment plan do not get charged any penalties so it’s worth talking to our staff early to avoid any risk of a missed payment and penalty charge.”
The new penalty charge brings the regional council into line with the rates penalties policies of most other councils.