Flooding rates hike proposed

By Natalie Dixon

4 comments
Rates could increase 7% as council pressure is on to avoid borrowing $40m.

Mayor Stuart Crosby meets MPs Simon Bridges and Tony Ryall today to discuss housing development legislation. Photo / George Novak
Mayor Stuart Crosby meets MPs Simon Bridges and Tony Ryall today to discuss housing development legislation. Photo / George Novak

Property owners could be hit with a minimum rates increase of 7 per cent after Tauranga City councillors proposed a targeted rise to tackle the city's flooding drama.

The revelation comes as Mayor Stuart Crosby is today in meetings about an additional $17 million bill for ratepayers if proposed changes to housing development legislation are pushed through unchecked.

Councillor John Robson yesterday proposed a 5 per cent targeted rates increase to raise an estimated $5 million annually, which would be added to the council's current $5.5 million yearly stormwater spend. This would sit on top of an expected 2 per cent rates increase due to inflation.

The move would save the council borrowing an extra $40 million over the next five years to pay for stormwater works.

It comes after a group of flood devastated Matua and Mount Maunganui residents this week told councillors how their homes had been inundated with raw sewage during extreme weather events.

The residents called on the council to fix their problems but staff said a "city wide approach" was needed and cautioned councillors to wait until flood modelling was completed in December 2014.

"You need to build a considered programme to get out of this habit of a spike in spending every time there is an event," senior policy planner Campbell Larking said.

Cr Robson's proposal of a 5 per cent targeted rate will be discussed during the draft annual plan meetings in March and will go out for community consultation before a final decision is made by June next year.

All elected members except Cr Clayton Mitchell supported Cr Robson's proposal.

Cr Robson said: "Clearly, we have inherited this issue and it is not ideal, to say the least. But I believe it is time we drew a line in the sand under this situation and put right the failures of decisions of the past.

"This may not be popular but we cannot deal with this by making token gestures. The sooner we strike the rate, the better."

Cr Robson said the council could look at targeted rates for individual areas affected by flooding.

"But I think we should take the one city, one waka approach. Sure, one part of the city may be flooding now, but if we do nothing another part could be next.

"It is time we make a proper and prudent provision and forward load, rather than putting this problem off yet again."

Cr Mitchell said he sympathised with the people affected by flooding and understood works were necessary, but could not support the targeted rate.

"I would prefer to see what the flood modelling says before we move," he said.

"We are talking about a 5 per cent rates increase right there, which will end up being 7 per cent with CPI increase, even before we start talking about events or other things that we want to improve in the city."

Flood modelling which will reveal all areas at risk in the city is expected to be completed by December next year.

Crisis meeting

Today, Mayor Stuart Crosby meets MPs Simon Bridges and Tony Ryall to discuss housing development legislation.

Street View
How do you feel about a proposed rates increase next year?

"I don't like it one bit, although I shouldn't complain about rates because we have it all here."
- Barbara Miles, 69, Pilot Bay

"If it's going to benefit the city then that's fine."
- Shirley Wilson, 50, Pyes Pa

"I'm not impressed. I know Tauranga is growing but the new people are paying rates and the people who have been here 20 years have already paid for the extra services they need."
- Andrew Robertson, 40s, Avenues

"I think the rates are fairly high now. The council is in debt, I don't think they should be recovering the debt through higher rates."
- Steve Elson, 57, Welcome Bay

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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