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Published: 2007-06-29 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has confirmed its overall rate revenue growth for next financial year is 9.8 per cent, compared to an earlier projection of 19 per cent.

The regional council adopted its 2007/08 Annual Plan at its meeting in Hamilton yesterday. The plan details the cost of a range of activities related to managing the effects of using freshwater, land, air and coastal waters, managing rivers, reducing soil erosion, protecting areas at risk of flooding, civil defence, land transport planning and the contracting of passenger services, among others.

Total spending in 2007/08 is now set to be $91.1 million, of which rates will contribute $58.85 million (exclusive GST).

When targeted rates for buses in Hamilton and growth in rates revenue from more houses in the region are taken out of the equation, the underlying projected rise in the regional Environment Waikato rate take is just 5.5 per cent.

Chairman Jenni Vernon said the council was fortunate that its strong financial position this year would flow through to next year’s work programmes, helping to reduce the amount of rates money required.

“Rates fund activities that help make our region safe, economically vibrant and ecologically healthy.

“The problem is our population is growing and our economy is geared for growth but our natural resources don’t grow – they stay the same. As a result, the quality and quantity of water, the quality of air and soils is threatened.

“The cost of protecting these resources is increasing and our ongoing challenge is balancing the impact on ratepayers of these costs.”

To this end, the council has cut planned expenditure in biosecurity and delayed the start of some new bus services to spread the rating impact more evenly on ratepayers.

As rates are determined by capital value, property revaluations have had a significant impact on this year’s rates. Franklin, Hamilton, Hauraki, Matamata-Piako, South Waikato, andThames-Coromandel have all recently been revalued, pushing up capital values. Where a property’s value has increased more than the average for the area, that property’s rates will increase accordingly. Equally, if the capital value increase is less than the average, rates will reflect this.

Cr Vernon stressed the overall impact on individual ratepayers and districts would vary considerably, with some facing a lower rates bill next year and others seeing a significant hike due to property revaluations and other factors.

For example, the total rate revenue contributed by Hamilton ratepayers was due to increase by 20 per cent to $17.5 million. That higher rate of increase reflects the impact of revaluations, increases in the city’s targeted transport rate for bus services, and increases in the biosecurity rate and the Waikato-Waipa (Watershed) rate for flood control, river management, land drainage and soil conservation activities. All are linked to capital value.

By contrast, rate revenue increases in other parts of the region – such as Otorohanga’s at three per cent – are much lower, even including two per cent rates revenue growth from new properties and subdivisions.

“People need to take a careful look at their individual circumstances to judge how our rate increases affect them,” said Cr Vernon.

“The fact is that more than three quarters of all Waikato households will still pay less than $350 a year for the environmental, flood protection, pest control, transport and regulatory services we provide.”

Territorial area Percentage increase in total rate revenue 2006/07 to 2007/08
(includes an extra 2% for new properties and subdividisions)
Franklin 12%
Thames-Coromandel 9%
Hauraki 7%
Waikato 4%
Matamata Piako 5%
Hamilton City 20%
Waipa 6%
Otorohanga 3%
South Waikato 8%
Waitomo 6%
Taupo 7%
Rotorua 6%
Waikato region 10%