Frequently asked questions
See the general information page for rates assessment information and work your rates fund.
Click on the question to reveal the answer.
+ Who pays rates to Waikato Regional Council?
By law, all people who pay rates to their own local council must also pay rates to their regional council. This has been the case since 1989.
+ How much of Waikato Regional Council's money comes from rates?
Our funding revenue comes from a variety of sources. About $100.110 million (excluding GST) is to be collected from rates in 2019/20, an increase in rates revenue from existing ratepayers of 7.8 per cent, both slightly below that proposed in the 2018/28 Long Term Plan.
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.
+ How can I have my say about what Waikato Regional Council does?
Our planning process includes publicly notifying new plans, proposed variations or changes to existing plans. You can make a submission on any of these publicly notified plans while they are in their draft stage.
Find out if any planning documents open for public consultation, here.
+ What is the capital value of the region?
The capital value of the region used for the 2019/20 year is $160 billion.
+ How many properties are there in the region?
There are about 208,000 rateable properties in the region.
+ What will most people in the region pay in Waikato Regional Council rates?
Your rates will vary depending on several factors, such as the size of your property, where you live, what work the Waikato Regional Council does in your area and how your property value has changed. For this reason it is difficult to make generalisations. However, this year most people will pay less than $486 in rates to the Waikato Regional Council.
+ What does Waikato Regional Council mean when it talks about 'most' properties?
When we talk about 'most' properties we mean all properties below the 75th percentile in any grouping.
+ How are my rates worked out?
Your rates will vary depending on several factors, such as the size of your property, where you live, what work the Waikato Regional Council does in your area and how your property value has changed.
In working out the appropriate rates for individual properties, there are a number of rates which are traditionally levied on all ratepayers. These include a general rate based on capital value, a uniform annual general charge (UAGC) and a number of targeted rates.
Use our rates calculator to find out the rates for your specific property. You can also compare them with your previous year's rates.
+ How does Waikato Regional Council decide what rating system to apply?
Under the Local Government Act, the 'benefit principle' is one factor that may be used when determining the most appropriate rating system. This means deciding which basis best reflects the services provided by the council. The council considers, and in many cases applies, targeted rates where beneficiaries are clearly defined. Uniform annual general charges (UAGC) are a tool that allow regional councils to apply a portion of the rate uniformly across ratepayers.
The council also considers factors such as:
- the benefit to the general community from activities
- whether the direct beneficiaries from an activity can be accurately determined or identified
- whether the size of the rateable property reflects the benefit received from these activities (for instance, if a rural property owner with a large land holding will gain greater benefits than an urban resident on a 600m² section)
- whether higher land value reflects greater benefit received from such activities (such as, the greater the value of an individual's land, the greater the benefit received)
- whether the value of improvements reflect the benefit received
- the impact of changing the current rating system on the burden of rates among different individual groups of ratepayers
- the degree of development of the land, which in return reflects investment in the land for either productive earning or capital gain .
+ How often will I get a rates invoice from Waikato Regional Council?
We invoice annually, with rate accounts being mailed during the month of September. Unless on an agreed payment arrangement with us, the due date for payment is the last business day of October.
+ Can I pay my rates by instalment?
Yes. There are a number of different payment options.
+ Where did Waikato Regional Council get the information about my property?
The information has come from existing information held by local district or city councils.
+ What does the general rate pay for?
The general rate is applied on a "capital value basis". It covers the cost of those parts of any activities of 'public benefit' where no other direct source of revenue is identified.
The general rate funds work in a number of activity areas, including:
- strategic and integrated planning - leading the Waikato region towards becoming more strategic and forward thinking, it is also about building relationships with and developing an understanding of other agencies involved in strategic planning in the Waikato and neighbouring regions
- guided by the RMA which requires a regional policy statement (RPS) and the review of it every 10 years. The RPS guides the development of the Waikato Regional Plan and Regional Coastal Plan. A regional land transport strategy is produced every six years and a regional land transport programme every three years.
- resource management implementation - consent processing, compliance and community education and participation. It encompasses most of the council's regulatory, education and incentive functions for implementing the RMA, Building Act 2004 and navigation safety
- activities undertaken by council to implement the objectives of its goals, strategies, policies and bylaws in accordance with legislative requirements.
- regional democracy - includes governance support, iwi engagement, planning and reporting, and communications
- aims to give people opportunities to participate in decisions
- natural environment and heritage - includes biodiversity, biosecurity and natural heritage. The council works with landowners, other agencies and the community at large to minimise biosecurity threats and enhance native biodiversity across the Waikato region
- Projects that enhance and protect our native plants and animals. Support and work with community groups involved in ecological protection, and partnerships that help protect special places the community wants preserved for present and future generations
- environmental, community and economic information - supports evidence based planning and decision making through gathering, analysing and documenting environmental, social, cultural and economic information
- Currently there are 1,106 environmental monitoring data collection sites ranging from recorders collecting continuous data to biannually sampled sites. The information collected ensures the council has the right information, knowledge and tools to develop targets, policies and rules for the review of the RPS, Waikato Regional Plan, water allocation and co-management. Ongoing monitoring also informs whether our policies are working and used to report on the state of the environment
- flood control and protection works - includes flood protection, land drainage and river management delivered across eight zones in the Waikato region
- Council has long been involved in protecting the community from floods and managing risks associated with rivers and streams. The focus is now on ongoing management and maintenance of existing assets and to ensure assets are adequately protecting against the impacts of weather events and other natural disasters
- catchment management - includes catchment services and harbour catchment management. Catchment services maintains soil conservation schemes, undertakes new works projects and is also involved in remediating the abandoned Tui Muine on the western flanks of Mount Te Aroha. Harbour catchment management includes routine works to alleviate flooding and vegetation management in harbours
- Catchment management programmes are planned in priority peat lake catchments, starting with Lake Serpentine (Rotopiko), and a Waikato district lakes interagency action plan. Harbour and catchment plans have been developed for Tairua, Whangamata and Wharekawa, with plans to be developed for Coromandel-Manaia, Whangapoua and Whitianga over the next 10 years
+ What is a UAGC?
A uniform annual general charge (UAGC) is a flat charge, per property, for a particular service or activity. Everyone pays the same amount.
We apply our UAGC to services that are related to people rather than property - so the charge does not change when property values increase. For example, our navigation and road safety work is paid for largely through the UAGC.
+ What is happening with targeted rates?
Under the 2018-2028 Long Term Plan, all ratepayers will continue to pay a number of targeted rates.
Civil Defence and emergency management rate - $10.70 per rating unit (GST inclusive).
Natural heritage rate - $5.80 per property (GST inclusive).
Biosecurity rate - applied to every rating unit in the region, based on capital value.
Permitted activity monitoring rate - $69.89 (GST inclusive) on every rating unit 2ha or greater.
Passenger Transport rate - the scheme consists of two differentials direct and indirect:
-direct rate charged on the capital value of all rating units within 800m of a bus route.
-indirect rate charged on the capital value of all rating units within the Hamilton City boundary.
Passenger Transport rail is charged on the capital value of all rating units within the Hamilton City boundary
Stock truck effluent rate - applied to every rating unit above 2ha in the region, based on capital value.
Catchment scheme targeted rates will vary depending on where your property is.
- Waihou-Piako schemes
- Waikato - Waipa (Watershed)
- Peninsula project
- West coast rate
+ Permitted activity monitoring rate
Under the regional plan, there are a number of activities that can be carried out without the need for a resource consent. In order to assess compliance with rules related to these activities, and the long-term impact of these activities on the environment, a new programme of work has been developed. This rate was implemented in 2006/07 and is assessed on all properties 2 hectares or greater in land area.
I live in an urban area and have no problem with pests. Why should I pay a biosecurity rate?
Most of the benefits from the pest control work we do are not linked to where you live. For example, controlling pests to protect biodiversity benefits everyone who values the survival of native birds and other species. Similarly, controlling agricultural pests benefits our entire regional economy.
+ Natural heritage partnership programme
What do we mean when we talk about natural heritage?
We are talking about special, ecologically significant places in our region that people want to preserve for current and future generations.
What specifically will the natural heritage rate be used for?
It will give us the resources to help protect special places around our region. This might include partnerships with district councils, central government, iwi and the public. The money will be used to secure a permanent public interest in an area through leases, covenants and purchases, help the community enhance the value of the land and assist private landowners to protect special areas of significance.
Why do I have to pay urban public transport rates if I don't use the bus? Why do we have a bus service?
Having an efficient public transportation system in Hamilton benefits everyone. Traffic congestion costs time and money, and contributes to our air pollution problems. The Waikato Regional Council uses the money it collects from rates to improve services in Hamilton and for planning to avoid the serious congestion problems that occur in other cities.
I pay a passenger transport rate - I should be able to use the buses for free
The cost of running the bus is paid from three areas - central government, the ratepayer, and the user of the bus. If one of the contributions reduces, for example through the provision of free buses, then the other two contributors would have to pay more for the service.
I don't have a bus service close to me but I still have to pay a rate
The urban public transport targeted rate is assessed on all Hamilton City rating units. Those rating units which are within 800m of public transport contribute through a direct rate and while you may not have a bus service close enough to use, you do still benefit from the city having an effective bus service and this is recognised with only the indirect rate only being levied on rating units outside of the 800m direct benefit area.
Why should I pay a urban public transport rate when I don't know how to catch a bus?
Check out www.busit.co.nz for all the information you need to catch a bus or talk to the team at the transport centre.
All the buses I see are driving around empty - why don't we have smaller buses?
A major part of the cost of operating a bus service is the capital cost of a bus. New buses cost in excess of $300,000. Any savings by buying a smaller bus to operate in quiet times do not compensate for the capital costs of buying a bus.
I use the bus and need a bus shelter
While the Waikato Regional Council looks after the buses, infrastructure including the placement of bus stops and providing bus shelters is provided by the territorial authority. In Hamilton, this is the Hamilton City Council. Any requests for bus shelters or moving bus stops needs to be made to Hamilton City Council.