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Published: 2004-06-09 00:00:00

Public comment on Environment Waikato’s Long-Term Council Community Plan will make the final document a robust Plan for the Region’s future, Corporate Services Chairman Barry O’Connor says.

Commenting on the Waikato Times’ story on Monday that Regional ratepayers believe they won’t get value for money from proposed rate increases, Mr O’Connor said the Council welcomed the large number of submissions.

“We actively sought input from our Region’s residents on our plans, ensuring that a submission form went into every household with a copy of our magazine EnviroCare. We have told people what we are planning and why the work is needed, and asked them to tell us what they want.

“Some urgent major projects are planned – protection of Lake Taupo’s declining water quality, and improved management of rivers and streams on the Coromandel to protect the area from flooding and erosion,” he said.

“These cost money and people agree the work needs to be done. They are just concerned about how the costs are spread.”

Mr O’Connor said the Times’ article accurately captured the dilemma the Council faced in taking on big Regional issues. An earlier Times editorial also accurately portrayed the problems of major Regional work needing to be done and the fact that rates would have to be increased to pay for them.

“With direct rating, Regional Councils are clearly much more in the public eye, and we welcome the opportunity to talk to people about the work that needs to be done and how it can be paid for,” Mr O’Connor said.

“We don’t undertake anything unless there is community buy-in to the project.”

He said the hearings held earlier this month gave many people an opportunity to present their concerns in person, and Councillors had carefully worked through the more than 3100 submissions to understand people’s perspectives.

The final Long-Term Council Community Plan will be adopted on June 30.