Farmers are not in for massive rate rises under Project Watershed, according to Environment Waikato.
Radio New Zealand’s Rural News programme last week said farmers were facing “rate rises of 100 and 1000 percent” under the project, which is developing a system to pay for river management, flood protection and vital soil conservation work in the Waikato and Waipa.
But Environment Waikato Watershed hearings Chair Cr Andra Neeley said any increase in rates would not be large.
“In fact for most landowners - not just farmers – the amount needed for this vital work will only be around $20 per $100,000 value of their property. As well, some of this work has previously been funded from local authority rates, which will now be absorbed into Project Watershed rates and be more transparent for ratepayers.
“Soil conservation work has been drastically reduced during the informal consultation period with liaison committees. It’s interesting that these works have been removed in areas which have not been previously rated for soil conservation work. However in places like Taupo – where landowners are well used to the benefits of this work – they have actually increased the amount they wish to pay and are keen to get on with it.”
She said some ratepayers would see reduced district drainage rates charged by the district councils as these works are brought into Project Watershed.
With Government funding no longer available for flood protection schemes and deficits from under funding accumulating, Environment Waikato has been reviewing how the schemes should be funded in the future.
Even if no new services are provided, it needs to find an additional $1.4 million a year to pay for work commitments, which now has to be paid by those who contribute to the need for the schemes and those who benefit.
Hearings begin in Taupo this week on submissions to the draft funding proposal.