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More environmental work planned for region

A fairer rating system, and new proposed targeted rates for heritage protection, protecting Lake Taupo, improving river management in the Coromandel and pest management are included in Environment Waikato’s, about to open for submissions.

The Council is proposing introducing a uniform annual general charge (UAGC) to make the rating system fairer as property valuations rise, and responding to public submissions with plans to protect natural heritage areas, Lake Taupo and the flood-prone Coromandel.

Chairman Neil Clarke said the introduction of a UAGC was long overdue, but Environment Waikato was only able to use this funding tool following the Local Government Act 2002, he said. The General Rate would reduce from $48.78 per $100,000 of capital value to $32.81, if a UAGC were introduced.

“There are a number of services that the Council provides that are used equally by all ratepayers regardless of the value of their properties, and many ratepayers have argued that the use of capital value rating to fund these services is unfair,” he said.

The inequality was accentuated this year by the fact that nine of the districts within the Region had seen significant increases in value after triennial re-valuations.

All Regional ratepayers would pay the new $36 UAGC, as well as a $5 per property Heritage Protection rate and $9 towards protecting Lake Taupo’s water quality, under the proposals which are open for public feedback.

Mr Clarke said the Council had received strong public support last year for Environment Waikato to play a greater role in protecting special natural heritage places around the Region. A total of $800,000 for this work would be raised through the proposed Natural Heritage rate.

The Lake Taupo Regional rate would cover a third of the $81 million estimated cost to clean up the lake, with 45 percent being funded by taxpayers and the rest by Taupo District ratepayers. While the cost in the coming year would be $9 per property, it would double to $18 per year for the next 14 years.

A new targeted rate of $5.20 for urban ratepayers and those on lifestyle blocks less than two hectares would cover pest control.

The rate would mean urban and lifestyle block ratepayers would contribute transparently towards the cost of animal and plant pest control in their areas, he said.

The General Rate would still contribute $2 million towards pest and weed control.

He said Coromandel ratepayers would also pay a new rate to fund the Peninsula Project to manage rivers and catchments in the Coromandel, but at a level they agreed to. A range of options would be canvassed with Peninsula ratepayers to fund this work.

The Long-Term Council Community Plan opens for public submissions shortly and closes Friday, May 14. The rates and charges struck will apply for the rating year beginning July 1.

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