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Published: 2011-03-11 00:00:00

Environment Waikato yesterday adopted its 2011/12 Draft Annual Plan based on a rates increase of 2.3 per cent to existing ratepayers. This translates to less than $20 for the majority of ratepayers.

However, councillors were advised that figure might increase as the Government is seeking a contribution of $1 million from Environment Waikato and Matamata-Piako District Council toward the $16 million required to complete the second phase of the project to clean up the contaminated Tui Mine on Mount Te Aroha. The regional council proposes to fund $800,000, with the district council meeting the balance.
 
The impact of the contribution on rates will be detailed in the Chief Executive’s submission to the council once staff have identified funding options. Any budget surplus from the current year, on top of the $597,000 surplus achieved last year, is one possible option.
 
Chairman Peter Buckley said the council would be aiming to minimise the impact on rates of the Tui Mine funding requirement, but would not be walking away from the project to clean up New Zealand’s most contaminated site.

“Local and central government must work together to clean up the mine to reduce the health and safety risks to the community and ongoing damage to the environment.”

The council’s other proposals for the coming year continue to focus on natural resource management, transport, flood control, civil defence and other core activities. In addition, the council is also looking to invest in new workstreams aimed at helping to drive economic growth.

Cr Buckley said he would be looking forward to hearing from Waikato ratepayers and residents about whether the proposed levels of service and associated budgets in the draft plan met community expectations.
 
“We encourage people to read the draft plan and give us feedback on any matter of interest to them,” he said.
  
The council will also be seeking the community’s direction on specific questions including whether to continue collecting a levy on behalf of the Animal Health Board to fund the region’s $650,000 share of bovine tuberculosis eradication work.  
 
Public consultation on the plan will take place from 25 March to 26 April. The draft plan will be available on EW’s website and in hard copy from 25 March and a special issue of Envirocare summarising the Draft Annual Plan will be delivered to every letterbox in the region. The council will hear submission 16-20 May before adoption of the Annual Plan on 29 June 2011.