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