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Published: 2003-07-21 00:00:00

Environment Waikato ratepayers are flocking to the internet to check out what their Regional Council rates will be this year.

So far, 3051 people have calculated their own Environment Waikato rate on the Council’s web pages, and calls to the Council’s freephone have risen from 179 for all of June to almost 300 for the first two weeks of July.

Ratepayers can calculate what their own rates are likely to be on Environment Waikato’s website, or if they don’t have internet access they can phone to find out or use a computer at Council offices.

The number of calls and website hits has increased steadily from about 45 phone calls a week in May to 159 last week, and about 40 to 80 website hits a week in May to 260 last week. Most people want to calculate their rate, while others checked out frequently asked questions, payment options or scheme descriptions.

Regional ratepayers will get a separate rates invoice for Environment Waikato rates this year, starting on August 1. They will also receive more information about how their rates are used.

The Regional Council’s rates used to be collected by the 12 city or district Councils around the Region. However, changes under the Local Government (Rating) Act mean territorial authorities are no longer required to collect rates on behalf of Regional Councils.

Website visitors can also find out about what rates pay for, how to pay, remission and postponement policies and answers to frequently asked questions.

Corporate Services Group Manager Warren Stevens said interest was growing as people heard about large rate increases in Auckland Regional Council’s area, however Waikato ratepayers are not facing anything like Auckland’s rate rises.

Most of the Region’s 166,000 ratepayers pay less than $250 each year in rates, and they can arrange to pay by instalments. Most will pay an average increase of $4 per $100,000 of their property’s capital value.

The amount varies throughout the Region, depending on the number of properties and timing of valuations, as well as any targeted rates paid for localised flood protection schemes or Hamilton’s Passenger Transport rate.