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Published: 2015-05-25 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council has today agreed to continue collecting the rate for the national bovine tuberculosis (TB) programme, but at a reduced amount of $500,000.

Only ratepayers with properties two hectares or greater in area will pay this rate, which will be 23 per cent less than in 2014/15. 

In making its decision during the first day of 2015-2025 Long Term Plan deliberations, the council made it clear 2015/16 would be the last year it would collect the rate.

In its long term plan released for public feedback in March, the council had proposed to decline a request to collect $650,000 for TBfree New Zealand’s vector possum control work in the region.

It followed a decision by the council last year to cease collecting the rate at the end of the 2014/15 financial year, after giving TBfree New Zealand another 12 months to find alternative funding mechanisms.

However, TBfree New Zealand said in its long term plan submission that it had not yet finalised the funding review but would do so during 2015/16.

“We recognise that one further year of transitional funding is appropriate given TBfree New Zealand is three-quarters of the way through its review, but we are expecting a much high degree of accountability over its spend in the region,” chairperson Paula Southgate said. 

The council agreed to collect the rate for $500,000 subject to TBfree New Zealand providing:

  • an accountability framework
  • operational and reporting plans
  • a budget breakdown for the regional programme
  • a six monthly report to the regional council’s finance committee for 2015/16.

In response to the council’s proposal to stop TB rate collection, the council received 103 submissions from individuals and organisations, with 74 per cent saying they opposed the proposal.

There are currently 10 infected herds in the Waikato and some submitters told the council that ceasing to collect the rate in 2015/16 would slow progress on reduction of bovine TB in the region.

“In making today’s decision, we are responding to submitters who in large part support the targeted rate, but there must be a resolution to the national funding review and, together with other regional councils, I will be continuing to exert pressure,” Cr Southgate said. 

Long term plan deliberations will continue tomorrow, with Wednesday set down as a reserve day.