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Deluge of replies on targeted rating proposal

MEDIA RELEASE

Deluge of replies on targeted rating proposal

For immediate release: Friday 17 February 2006

Bay of Plenty residents are definitely keen to have their say on how they want to be rated by Environment Bay of Plenty.

The regional council received nearly 1000 replies when it asked for people’s views on a new way of rating for some of its activities. “That’s way above the normal level of response we get,” says Ben O’Meara, strategic support manager. “In fact, it’s one of the highest ever. It’s great because it gave us a much better idea of what people liked and what they didn’t like.”

Mr O’Meara says the feedback has been taken into account in the rating proposal put into the draft of Environment Bay of Plenty’s Ten Year Plan, which will open for formal submissions in late March.

Late last year, Environment Bay of Plenty staff sent a brochure to homes in the Bay of Plenty. It asked people if they did or did not favour the introduction of targeted rates for three major areas of council activity, Rotorua lakes restoration, passenger transport and biosecurity work.

At the moment all Bay of Plenty ratepayers pay for these activities through their general rates. With targeted rates, the people who get more benefit from this work, or who have contributed more to the need for the work, will pay more for it. Rotorua residents, for example, would pay a greater share of the costs of lake restoration.

Mr O’Meara says that most people supported targeted rating as a concept. “They thought it made sense. It seemed a pretty fair way to do it.” However, they didn’t necessarily agree with the details as proposed by Environment Bay of Plenty, such as who should pay more and by how much.

The Rotorua lakes proposal concerned people most because of the way it was calculated. “It meant that people living in Rotorua city would pay $80 a year while a ratepayer living on a small lifestyle block planted in pine trees might only pay $5. It didn’t seem quite right.”

Because of the complexities, the lakes proposal going through to the council’s draft of the Ten Year Plan is now to introduce an interim flat rate for the first year. “This will give us a chance to gather more information and iron out any anomalies.”

Mr O’Meara says the responses spanned the region. “It was interesting because many Rotorua people supported paying more for the lakes – and Tauranga people realised it was fair that they should pay more than others towards their local bus service.”

ENDS

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