Bay ratepayers face 4.2pc increase

By John Cousins

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Cr Mike Williams
Cr Mike Williams

Rates look likely to increase by a total of 4.2 per cent in the Western Bay District this year after the council added $163,000 to its budgets.

Most of the increase will be in targeted rates, with roading swallowing an extra $200,000 after protests from farmers and lifestylers about the state of their unsealed roads.

Offsetting the increase was the sudden closure of the Katikati Heritage Museum last month, which cut proposed spending by $65,000.

The council yesterday arrived at a rates increase of 4.7 per cent, which reduced to 4.2 per cent once the 0.5 per cent growth in the number of rateable properties was deducted.

A major decision saw the council buckle to pressure from its rural community and reinstate nearly all the $205,000 it proposed to remove from road seal extensions. There are about 200km of unsealed roads left in the district.

Cr Mike Williams said the decision did not mean the roads, which were the target of submissions, would be the ones that got sealed.

Seal extensions were sought for Thompsons Track, Reid Rd, Teihana Rd, Leyland Rd, Upper Wright Rd, McKenzie Rd and Omanawa Rd.

Cr Kevin Marsh said the council had not been making sure that its unsealed roads were "kept up to scratch". A really good metal base instead of bitumen would help.

Meeting chairman Garry Webber, in a reference to Tauranga City Council's $5 million stormwater upgrade levy, said there were no levies in Western Bay's annual plan for 2014-15. "We do not resort to smoke and mirrors in this council."

In another major decision, tennis and skateboarding at Omokoroa have taken a giant leap forward after years of lobbying. The $185,000 in this year's budget to develop Omokoroa Sports Ground has been allocated, with $115,000 going towards the construction of two tennis courts and $50,000 towards a skatepark.

A further $20,000 has been given to Omokoroa Point School as a contribution to resurface its two courts on the understanding the courts became a multi-purpose facility for the wider community.

It took a narrow 6-5 vote to secure the $190,000 needed to build a skatepark at Te Puke's Jubilee Park, adjoining the Cultural Courtyard. The issue for some councillors was reallocating the $107,000 from the dropped project to build public toilets in Queen St.

The council proposed to bring forward the $50,000 allocated for the skatepark in 2015-16 if the community was able to come up with the remaining $33,000 needed to make the project happen.

It means that all the $1.9 million the council received for the sale of a portion of Jubilee Park for a commercial development had now been spent.

Cr Karyl Gunn stressed it was a skatepark and not a skate bowl and had been part of the town centre redevelopment plan since 2005.

Meanwhile, a decision on Katch Katikati's proposal to relocate into the town's former fire station has been postponed for 12 months while the council decides what to do with the old building. The building is being used as temporary storage for the former heritage museum collection until a future museum is considered later this year.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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