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Published: 2015-07-03 00:00:00

Waikato regional councillors have thrown their weight behind remits pushing for a levy on plastic shopping bags, a re-introduction of subsidies for water and wastewater schemes and an investigation into the paying of rates on Crown land.

The remits are being considered by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) at its annual general meeting in Rotorua on 19 July.

This week’s regional council meeting agreed to support the remits.

A plastic shopping bag levy has been proposed by Palmerston North City Council. It suggests that central Government impose a compulsory levy on plastic bags at point of sale to help deter their use. A report to the regional council said that “overseas a levy is becoming more common and has generally been successful in reducing usage”.

Councillors also supported a Far North District Council suggestion that LGNZ urgently engages with central Government about re-introducing water supply and wastewater services subsidy schemes. It asks that $40 million a year be made available for such schemes. “Water and wastewater systems are crucial enablers of public health and a sustainable environment,” a report to the council said.

Meanwhile, support was also given to a Whanganui District Council remit urging LGNZ to investigate territorial authorities charging rates on Crown-owned properties. The Local Government rating Act 2002 currently limits the rates payable by the Crown on such properties but a report to the council indicated this was for unknown historical reasons: “We understand that the exemption was introduced in 1867 and [records were] silent on the rationale.”

Chairperson Paula Southgate, who will attend the LGNZ conference, said she looked forward to the discussions on the remits.

“Protecting the environment and helping deliver more efficient and effective services is what the regional council is about. These remits are all about engaging with central Government strongly to make progress on these points.”