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Council approves draft annual budget

Waikato Regional Council is sticking to its 2018-2028 Long Term Plan with the approval of the draft 2019/20 Annual Plan budget.

The council today approved a draft budget of $101.355 million with a proposed increase in rates revenue from current ratepayers of 7.8 per cent, both slightly below that proposed in the 2018-28 Long Term Plan.

Chair Alan Livingston says the regional council is sticking to its plan, and as a result there are minimal changes to the works programme for 2019/20.

“There are just a few minor tweaks,” said Mr Livingston. “Therefore, we will not be consulting on the Annual Plan and it is proposed that it will be adopted in June 2019.”

The increase in the general rate, uniform annual general charge (UAGC) and uniform region wide rates is 4.5 per cent, while the increase in targeted rates is 11.8 per cent. Within the targeted rates, the main increases are in biosecurity, public transport (Hamilton City only) and catchment work.

For biosecurity, more funding is being put into pest control, including management of possums, wallabies and kauri dieback.

The regional council is collecting rates from Hamilton City ratepayers for the Hamilton-Auckland passenger rail service, which is expected to start in March 2020. We will also start collecting a region-wide rate that will fund a $5 million contribution towards building a new regional theatre in Hamilton.

Spreading the cost of catchment rate increases for Lower Waikato and Waihou-Piako over three years was locked in as part of the Long Term Plan, so these areas will again see rate increases this year. The rates in these catchments have also gone up in response to a sought increased level of work in flood protection.

Ratepayers will be able to use the council’s online rates enquiry tool to see what the proposed increases will be for their property. Look out for it on the council’s website in April.

The 2019/20 Annual Plan takes effect from 1 July 2019.

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