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Published: 2008-09-05 00:00:00

Ratepayers contributing to the costs of the Waihou and Piako river schemes are to receive letters shortly outlining how a limited review has proposed rating changes that would affect their individual properties.

The proposals – put up for public consultation by Environment Waikato last month – are aimed at making funding of the flood protection schemes simpler and fairer.

"The letters being sent out from next week will give individual property owners the chance to see how the proposals would affect them if implemented," said Environment Waikato’s river and catchment services operations manager Guy Russell.

"If anyone has queries about how the proposals affect them after they’ve received their letter they can call 0800 800 401.

"Starting in late September, we’ll be running a series of community consultation meetings on the proposals in Thames, Paeroa, Morrinsville, Matamata, Tirau, Ngatea, Waihi and Te Aroha. People will also be able to ask questions or raise issues at these," said Mr Russell.

Public submissions on the suggestions are due by the end of October before the holding of public hearings.

"We encourage people to have their say if they have any ideas for doing things differently," said Mr Russell.

The new proposals for rating for the river schemes have already taken into account initial community feedback that people wanted any changes to be simple and fair, to have a new single catchment rate, to fix the existing anomalies within the urban areas and to minimise the shift of rates from one ratepayer to another.

One of the main suggested changes is to apply a new capital value-based catchment rate universally across both the Waihou and Piako catchments. There is no change in the total rates collected from the catchments and in the vast majority of cases, this would mean little change to the total rates bill in dollar terms for individual properties, Mr Russell said.

Under the plans, out of 28,600 rateable properties in the two schemes, approximately 2,000 would get an increase of more than $50 a year and 2,000 would get a decrease of more than $50 a year. Some 17,700 would have an increase or decrease of less than $20 either way.

Generally speaking, those affected most by increases in dollar terms through a capital value-based rate would be ratepayers with higher valued properties.

"The implementation of a capital value-based catchment rate will simplify the existing systems, be consistent with other catchment rates within the Waikato Region and better reflect the public good benefits provided by the catchment wide works," said Mr Russell. "Public good benefits include how the schemes support the local economy and the provision of services in the area." Those actually living behind stopbanks would continue to pay their rates on the existing basis that reflects the direct benefit they gain from the works.

The Waihou and Piako river schemes – with assets worth nearly $90 million – provide:

  • an integrated river and catchment service throughout the catchments to support stability of land within the upper catchments
  • clear, well maintained rivers and streams throughout the catchments
  • flood protection in the lower flat land to ensure that large areas of land and vital infrastructure within both catchments suffer less damage through storms
  • better conditions for continued farming and prosperous communities

Find out more about the Waihou and Piako River scheme proposed rating changes.