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Published: 2013-05-22 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council today signed off on its 2013/14 Annual Plan featuring further reductions in rates increases while maintaining a range of service improvements.

The draft plan that went out for community consultation in March proposed an average 2.9 per cent rates increase to existing ratepayers for the financial year beginning 1 July 2013. However, this was today reduced to 1.3 per cent after consideration of submissions and deliberations. 

Chairman Peter Buckley said the council had a prudent budget to advance the region’s environmental and economic priorities. 

“We have done a good job of reducing the rates that apply to every property in the region, with only targeted rates set to increase to pay for improvements to flood protection infrastructure and land drainage,” he said. 

“The decrease in the general rate reflects savings achieved through general efficiencies, joint procurement initiatives and the application of surpluses from the 2011/12 financial year.”  

The largest part of the targeted rates increase is to fund a 10-year programme to upgrade stopbanks on a priority basis. In the 2012-2022 Long Term Plan (LTP) the council budgeted $2.2 million annually, with provision for $22 million over 10 years for the work. 

Offsetting the reduction in the general rate is an increase in the biosecurity rate of $727,000 to fund expansion of the council’s priority possum control programmes. 

After consideration of submissions, councillors also voted today to increase the contribution to Maungatautari ecological island from $275,000 to $300,000 funded from the natural heritage rate, and confirmed funding of $150,000 for the replacement of clean heat appliances in Tokoroa. 

A decision on rating options to pay for work completed last year to protect Te Puru community from up to a 1-in-100 year flood will be made on the day the plan is formally adopted. 

The council decided to investigate some floodway improvement works at Graham’s Creek but details are to be finalised through further talks with the community and Thames Coromandel District Council. 

The plan will be formally adopted on 27 June.