Rates up 2% to counter floods

By John Cousins


Tauranga ratepayers will be paying $43.5 million to sort out the city's remaining flooding hot spots over the next five years.

The council has dramatically reshuffled its stormwater works programme after being confronted with the reality of what residents in Matua and Mount Maunganui had suffered in April's torrential downpours.

The stormy weekend forced the council to unanimously agree to an average 2 per cent rate rise - 1.5 per cent more than if the floods had never happened.

It means an average ratepayer will have to find another $38 this year, based on a rate of $1904.

The $43.5 million commitment was in addition to the existing $27.5 million of stormwater works programmed for the next five years.

The huge top-up needed to fast-forward works to deal with the city's worst hit areas will start small, with a $1.5 million cash injection this year from rates to pay for complex computer programmes needed to find cost-effective flooding solutions.

A further $2 million will be borrowed to fund actual project costs, including fast-tracking flood relief projects at Papamoa, Oropi and Greerton. There will also be stop-gap measures to reduce the risk to other hot spots, including Matua and the Mount.

These measures will include quickly engineered solutions to improve overland stormwater flow paths and new catchpits designed to handle much larger volumes of water and flood debris.

Council infrastructural services general manager Ian Gooden said the focus for the next 12 months would be on modelling and designing solutions to flooding hot spots, with construction due to take place in the summer of 2014-15.

Work would peak between 2014 and 2017 when $33 million would be spent on construction and $1.5 million on computer modelling.

Areas with the most significant flooding problems would be addressed first.

The total 2 per cent rates rise was within the council's self-imposed rates cap of 2 per cent plus inflation - inflation was running at about 1 per cent. The council called for public submissions on a 0.6 per cent rates rise, but that was before the storm hit.

Councillor David Stewart said it was unacceptable for people to live in homes that continually flooded, and it was totally unacceptable when they had to endure sewer run-off.

He said the early emphasis was on modelling and design so that the money would be spent properly and wisely.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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