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Published: 2012-02-22 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council says ratepayers in Hauraki and Thames-Coromandel Districts are generally paying a fair share of regional council rates.

It follows criticism that the two districts collectively pay 20 per cent of regional council rates, while only being home to about 11 percent of the regional population. The criticism has been used to support calls for a Hauraki and Thames-Coromandel unitary authority.

However, the regional council’s finance group manager Mike Garrett said the two regions had 18.9 per cent of the total number of rateable properties in the region.

“The overall rates income we receive from the two districts is based on the number of properties and their capital value, not permanent resident population. There is a high non-resident population in the Thames-Coromandel area due to the number of holiday homes. These are still properties we and Thames-Coromandel District Council need to provide services for.

“It is also important to acknowledge that rates income includes both general rates to fund region wide services and targeted rates for specific services undertaken in a particular area.

“Hauraki’s and Thames-Coromandel’s combined contribution to general rates make up a 17.9 per cent share of the general rates contribution for the region, which is broadly in line with the number of property owners rather than permanent population. And of the total of $16.4 million in rates collected from Hauraki and Thames-Coromandel districts, some $6.6 million is collected to fund river and catchment works specifically for those areas.

“While Hauraki and Thames-Coromandel do contribute to regional council projects outside their areas they also get a strong positive benefit from general rate monies collected by us from outside their areas.”

Mr Garrett said that general regional rates contributed heavily to navigation safety, and to coastal and marine planning services provided by the regional council on the Thames-Coromandel coast, and also to catchment works in the Coromandel, Piako and Waihou zones.

“And we would again stress that the economies of scale available to a regional council covering the whole Waikato would not be available to smaller unitary authorities.”