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Published: 2004-06-30 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has voted to introduce a Uniform Annual General Charge of $35.77 as part of its Long-Term Council Community Plan adopted today.

After considerable debate, Councillors voted to adopt the UAGC, which brings the General Rate per $100,000 down from $42.55 to $31.75. In response to public concerns about rates, the Council has also reduced its draft budget by $520,000 – equivalent to about a 2.7 percent cut in the General Rate.

The Council received more than 1400 submissions on the idea of a uniform charge, with 56 percent supporting it and 44 percent against. Those in favour said using capital value to fund services related to people rather than property was unfair. Others felt the greater effect of the UAGC on people on low or fixed incomes was unfair.

This will reduce the General Rate increase from 6.4 percent to 3.7 percent. Chairman Neil Clarke said the Council recognised that Regional ratepayers faced many financial demands.
“We have adopted a budget that represents a reasonable balance between funding the work that must be done and the impact on ratepayers. In many cases the Council has reduced funding for programmes that ideally should be undertaken to manage our environment as effectively as we would like.

“Environment Waikato is satisfied with the work we do for the amount of money we collect from ratepayers. Across the Region, 75 percent of all ratepayers will receive a total bill of less than $300 from Environment Waikato. Compared to last year, 75 percent of all ratepayers will have an increase of less than $50.”

He said the largest part of additional rates collected this year would pay for new environmental projects that many ratepayers asked for.

“In contrast, our General Rate revenue this year (including the new UAGC) will increase by just 3.7 percent, of which more than half is needed to cover inflation. Most of the other spending is for urgent work to manage coastal development and to improve land use around the Region.

“It is impossible to create a ratings system that is perceived as acceptable by everyone. For example, our General Rate is based on capital value but we recognise that this is not a perfect system. The UAGC partly addresses that inequity but has other weaknesses that concerned some councillors.”