Coun­cil­lors ques­tion rates Mata­mata-Pi­ako in­crease more than other Waikato re­gions

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By STEVE ED­WARDS

With the boot on the other foot, some Mata­mata- Pi­ako dis­trict coun­cil­lors seem to rel­ish hav­ing a crack at their re­gional coun­ter­parts.

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil has come out with a mod­est 0.2 per cent av­er­age rate rise in its draft bud­get, but the re­al­ity for Mata­mata-Pi­ako ratepay­ers was ques­tioned at last Wed­nes­day’s dis­trict coun­cil meet­ing.

‘‘Why is Mata­mata-Pi­ako pay­ing more than any­one else?’’ asked Cr Neil Goodger.

A staff re­port said of the 11 dis­tricts in the Waikato re­gion for 2015/16, Mata­mata-Pi­ako has the third high­est es­ti­mated rates for a $200,000 prop­erty (be­hind Hamil­ton City and Otoro­hanga) and the sec­ond high­est for both a $350,000 prop­erty and a $1 mil­lion prop­erty (fol­low­ing only Hamil­ton).

WRC com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­viser Wendy Valois said the pro­jected rates in­crease for MatamataPiako res­i­dents has been in­flu­enced by a range of fac­tor.

This in­cludes a pro­posed change to the UAGC ( uni­form an­nual gen­eral charge), a flat rate ap­plied to all prop­er­ties in the Waikato re­gion, which she said in par­tic­u­lar im­pacts on lower val­ued prop­er­ties in the dis­trict. In the draft plan the UAGC would rise from $68.73 to $85.

The UAGC cur­rently funds ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing gov­er­nance, or­gan­i­sa­tional plan­ning and re­port­ing, so­cial and eco­nomic in­for­ma­tion, mar­itime ser­vices, Home of Cy­cling grant fund­ing, emer­gency man­age­ment and re­silient devel­op­ment.

The draft plan pro­poses the in­clu­sion of iwi and com­mu­nity part­ner­ships, and bio­di­ver­sity.

The WRC also uses pro­jected prop­erty val­ues for the as­sess­ment of its gen­eral and biose­cu­rity rate. Based on in­for­ma­tion pro­vided to the WRC by Quotable Value NZ, the MPDC share has in­creased from 9.23 per cent to 10.07 per cent.

Valois said flood pro­tec­tion and drainage rates also ac­count for a higher pro­por­tion of the rates bill for Mata­mata- Pi­ako res­i­dents than in some other dis­tricts in the Waikato.

The re­gional coun­cil’s pro­posed estab­lish­ment of a re­gional devel­op­ment fund sim­i­larly came in for some stick from the MPDC.

For a num­ber of years coun­cils across the re­gion have been get­ting ad hoc re­quests to fund in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing such things as the cy­cle­ways be­ing built around the Waikato, the WRC said.

As a re­sult, the re­gional coun­cil in­ves­ti­gated the pos­si­bil­ity of set­ting up a fund ‘‘for re­gion­ally sig­nif­i­cant projects which will ben­e­fit peo­ple of all ages through­out the re­gion now and into the fu­ture’’.

The WRC said sim­i­lar funds es­tab­lished by other coun­cils in New Zealand have helped such things as an in­no­va­tion cen­tre, marine precinct, har­bour trans­for- ma­tion, fes­ti­vals and events.

Based on the pro­jected re­turn from the WRC in­vest­ment fund, it’s pro­posed that $ 840,000 is redi­rected into the re­gional devel­op­ment fund in 2015/ 16, with $1.16m in 2016/17 and $1.48m in 2017/18. It’s pro­posed that over the 10 years of the plan a to­tal of $18.89m would be avail­able to in­ject into re­gional- scale projects.

‘‘If the fund is set up and funded by way of re­turns from our in­vest­ment fund, there is no im­pact on rates as the phased re­duc­tion of the rates sub­sidy from the in­vest­ment fund is off­set by ef­fi­ciency sav­ings built into the bud­gets,’’ the WRC said.

Cr Goodger called the move a ‘‘back­door way to amal­ga­ma­tion’’.

‘‘This is not their core busi­ness,’’ Cr Ash Tan­ner added.

Sub­mis­sions on the re­gional coun­cil’s long-term plan closed on April 14.

Neil Goodger

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