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Waihou/Piako Rates Increases

Rate-payers will soon be in a position to understand the effect of valuation and rating changes put in place as a result of the ten-year plan exercise recently undertaken by both our Councils. This will come as quite a shock to some people – particularly those whose properties have been re-valued recently, but not as great in the case of TCDC had the proposed increase in the Uniform Annual General Rate been adopted.

Concurrent with the TYP, the Waikato Regional Council has been facing the dilemma brought about by storm damage to its principal infrastructure – that related to flood control and coastal protection – upgrades and improvements in the main. The dilemma arises from the necessity to recover the majority of the costs from the area of benefit – in our case, the area covered by the Waihou-Piako Catchment Committee where the costs are by far the highest in the Region proportionate to the population.

The problem does not stop there – it is exacerbated by climate change projections, and the vulnerability of the assets – particularly pumps that are reaching the end of their useful life and for which unexplained, insufficient depreciation has been allowed in the past. Many of these are no longer considered viable because of their reliance on power, and the transformers that are no longer deemed suitable where there is any danger of inundation – an increasing threat as we all know.

Can you imagine the horror of certain sections of our population at the thought of diesel pumps replacing electric just as our recently elected Government has decided to forbid future oil exploration - a paradox if ever there was! And further, the expense of these units has been vastly increased by the need for pumps incorporating fish protection technology to protect spawning stock - the rersult of Fish and Game presssure.

The full extent of this dilemma and the likely effect on Thames rate-payers is only revealed in the actual LTP document which arrived today. And not only for Thames rate-payers – even more so the farmers whose properties are directly in the ‘line of fire’ over the entire catchment, and whose very existence depends on WRC’s ability to exclude the sea, and rapidly dispose of it when it tops the stop-banks, and more importantly, penetrates the peat as sea-level rises over time, and as the peat subsides.

At some point in the future, it appears inevitable that a reasoned rationalization of the very existence of vulnerable dairy units will need to be undertaken. Pond aquaculture may be an unlikely alternative - and cow 'cockies' may need to undertake some rapid re-training!

At the same time, the rationalization for continuing to rate Thames rate-payers for the benefit that they are deemed to derive from inundation and river flood works will come under even closer scrutiny. At the moment, the best argument that I have heard is that it is based on the need to keep open our access and egress across the plains from Kopu to Route 27 – thin gruel indeed when compared with the protection afforded to rural dwellers, and their bovine dependents, .

WRC rating methodology is diametrically different to that of TCDC – you will have realized that from attempting to decipher the hieroglyphics of your rates bill next week, but one thing is sure, we are paying a substantial sum because of our location, quite apart from the increased capital value of our properties that I have been told will equalize with Huraki as progressive re-valuation takes place there next year.

Just to give you some idea of the imbalanced infrastructure expenditure over the fifty years forward – the projection for Waihou-Piako comprises $1.443m (that is nearly $1.5b) compared to the total of $2.817m ($2.8b) over the 8 District catchments. This unpleasant prospect has given rise to consideration of ways and means fringe areas may be able to escape the inevitable rates bulge, and move into adjacent catchments – Tararu into Coromandel is but one example.

But I can assure you that the bureaucracy has diverse means of setting well laid traps to prevent groups of rate-payers from following such an easy destiny, even if there is a process laid down by which a majority of affected rate-payers can seek such a change. One of these revolves around the application of ‘independently verified' rate ‘differentials‘ applying ‘area of benefit’ principles. This is designed to ensure a range of changes that would negatively affect most rate-payers in the short term.

Nevertheless, escaping the dubious benefit of being a member of the Waihou/Piako constituency, and the inevitability of its future rate bulge – likely to be grossly in excess of those being applied elsewhere in the Region, may still be recognized by the majority as a desirable way out.

I look forward to being able to partake in further reasoned discussion of this possibility in due course – hopefully in time to be able to partake in a submission to the WRC in time for due consideration before the next Annual Plan round.

On the wider front, all WRC rate-payers, and more particularly those residing in Waihou/Piakop should be aware, and cognizant of the likely consequences of what their Council is planning, no matter how it is ‘dressed-up’ in any document accompanying your rates demand.  




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Reader Comments (2)

Thanks for the 'heads-up' Bill.
Constant and inevitable rate increases are a given. What is not a given is how the various affected communities are to afford them.
There is a great deal of discussion about the impending catastrophe that is headed our way and why everyone must do something about the many and varied consequences that will befall us with our lack of action. But there is little sensible and realistic discussion about how these issues are to be afforded by people of average income and those on fixed incomes. All the warnings in the world mean nought if no one can afford the very substantial costs of taking action. We need not be reminded that WRC are increasing rates - but we do need to be cognizant of the fact that TCDC, insurance companies and providers of all manner of services are doing the same. The cumulative effect might be to drive rate-payers, tax-payers and consumers [one and the same] into a very big brick wall - and still the consequences, of either doing something or doing nothing will remain to be faced.

July 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRussell

You are correct in pointing out the impending reality of the cost of flood protection from both Sea and River on the plains. Large swathes of Hauaraki District plains are lower than high tide with this area increasing due to peat oxidation and compaction from drainage. The very existence of the Ngatea is threatened along with access to and from the west to the east of this lowland area. Unless we spend like the Dutch we will have to start a managed retreat to save lives and homes.

If the true cost was borne by the those that benefit the investment decisions would be very different.

August 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterThe Plain Truth

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