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Published: 2004-06-30 00:00:00

Most Waikato ratepayers agree that a better way should be found to pay for navigation safety work on rivers, lakes and harbours but remain divided on where the money should come from.

Environment Waikato received more than 1500 submissions, suggestions and comments on its Long-Term Council Community Plan about navigation safety, which was adopted today. The draft Plan had asked ratepayers for ideas on how to fund the almost $1 million it costs for navigation safety work in the Region, including registering boats as one option. Boat registration is not proposed for next year.

Many submitters supported a ‘user pays’ approach and said the current system of paying through the General Rate was unfair to people who did not use waterways. Many boaties, however, disagreed with boat registration. They said education was a better answer and suggested that petrol tax money be used to fund the service. Overall, submissions were equally divided on whether boat registration should be considered as a funding option.

The Council said it would pursue new sources of funding, including a contribution from Central Government. Some other regional councils pay for navigation safety through commercial port charges, but this option is not available to Environment Waikato.

Boat registration was only one option and discussions would continue with all stakeholders as all options were explored. Until then, the costs of navigation safety will continue to come from the General Rate.