Stratford Press

Water meters centre stage at consultati­on

Residents anxious meter charge would add pressure

- Ilona Hanne Disclosure: Editor Ilona Hanne is married to the CEO of the Stratford District Council.

Who should pay when it comes to economic developmen­t and water use in the town were two of the topics under the spotlight at a meeting last week.

Stratford Mayor Neil Volzke, Deputy Mayor Alan Jamieson and councillor­s Jono Erwood, Gloria Webby, Min McKay, Peter Dalziel and John Sandford met with members of the community at Whakaahura­ngi Marae last Tuesday evening for the last of several Long Term Plan (LTP) consultati­on meetings held around the district during the past month.

Volzke opened the meeting by thanking those present for their attendance and explaining the consultati­on process.

He said the LTP consultati­on document highlighte­d four key issues, including water conservati­on.

“We want to make a genuine effort to conserve water,” he said, saying it was a key requiremen­t of the resource consent process the council went through.

Water meters, he said, were a way to encourage people to be more conservati­ve with their water use.

Chrissy Darth said she was concerned it would put financial pressure on people in the community.

“This would be quite a significan­t increase for some of our community.”

She said it might be the “final straw” for people already struggling to pay their rates.

An increase in cost was also a concern for Lovey Read, Whakaahura­ngi Marae secretary, who said the marae was used by many people for various events, hui and other gatherings all using water.

Councillor Erwood raised the possibilit­y of the marae being eligible for a rates remission, something Mayor Volzke said was possible, but said he couldn’t say what the outcome of such an applicatio­n might be.

The question of who pays was also raised when it came to the proposal for a targeted economic developmen­t rate. This, Volzke said, would mean owners of commercial properties in the town would pay more for this specific activity, reducing the cost to residents.

Brian Darth, who co-owns Brian Darth Funeral Services with his wife, Chrissy, said any such rates increase for commercial property owners would still affect others, however, as he believed the increased cost would be passed down to the property tenants and then the customers themselves.

“The cost is going to be passed on to the consumer. If my power bill goes up for example, my costs go up. We all know it is the man at the bottom of the chain who is going to pay the most.”

Chrissy Darth said she felt there wasn’t enough detail as to what the targeted rate would be spent on. “To make a submission I need to know what council are going to spend that money on.”

Submission­s on the Stratford District Council Long Term Plan closed on May 2.

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