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Published: 2003-03-27 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has revised its work plans for the year to address urgent needs in the Region, according to its Draft Annual Plan.

Included in the Draft Plan for the coming year are completing plans for protecting Lake Taupo, gauging community interest in protecting natural heritage, resolving issues about the development of marinas, developing a river management plan for flood damaged Coromandel, dealing with geothermal issues and increasing the frequency and efficiency of Hamilton’s bus system.

The Council has also made a number of changes in response to new legislation, including collecting its own rates which were previously collected on its behalf by territorial authorities.
Chairman Neil Clarke said the Council recognised that Regional ratepayers faced many financial demands.

“We believe this year’s budget represents a reasonable balance between funding the work that must be done and the impact on the public.”

The Council is asking for community input on whether it should extend its role in protecting the Region’s native bush, natural coasts and public open spaces, guaranteeing public access, and how this could be funded.

A plan for the protection of Lake Taupo will be released for public submission later this year, with major input from the community as a result of consultation over the last two years. The Lake is at risk from increasing amounts of nitrogen flowing into its waters.

The Council will be working with the Coromandel community to assess what is needed to protect it from flooding, find out what people want and what the community can afford. Recent storms, such as last June’s “weather bomb”, have heightened public concerns about river management in the area, especially along the Thames coast.

Over the next year, a special catchment rate will be explored as a longer term solution to funding the works agreed to.

The Council is also asking for community input on improving the frequency and efficiency of bus services in Hamilton City. Increasing the frequency of buses to half hourly would increase the city’s Passenger Transport rate by $12 per $100,000 of property capital value. Other transport improvements, such as more night and Sunday services are also proposed.

Ratepayers across the Waikato would pay about another $4 including GST under a proposed increase in the General Rate, for every $100,000 of their property’s capital value. The current general rate of $44.78 per $100,000 capital value will increase to $48.78 to fund the work programmes set out in the Draft Annual Plan.

Some properties also have targeted rates, depending on where they are. Hamilton City properties pay the general rate, passenger transport rate, currently $21, for each $100,000 of capital value, and Greater Waikato Catchment rate of $12.40 per $100,000 of capital value, including GST.

Rural properties pay the general rate, a Biosecurity rate of $0.52 per hectare, various targeted rates for flood protection schemes such as Greater Waikato Catchment, Piako, Waihou or drainage schemes.

From late April ratepayers can check out indicative rates for their property by visiting Environment Waikato’s website, www.ew.govt.nz and putting in their valuation number. Council staff can provide this information to ratepayers who do not have internet access.