A hefty rise in Bayhopper bus subsidies has driven a proposed $133 average Tauranga rates rise this year by the regional council.

It represented a 54 per increase by a council that had historically kept its rates low by using income from its majority shareholding in the Port of Tauranga.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council which had environmental protection, flood control and transport as its major functions, yesterday signed off its 10-year plan for public consultation.

Read more: Tauranga City Council will hold open application round for $150k funding from trusts

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Tauranga ratepayers will this year contribute nearly 50 per cent of the council's general rate levied across the whole of the Bay of Plenty.

The increase for Tauranga was mainly driven by the decision to end the cross-subsidisation of Tauranga's bus service by all the region's ratepayers.

The council currently collected $18 from each regional ratepayer to help subsidise Tauranga's buses. Shifting the whole of the subsidy on to the shoulders of Tauranga ratepayers would lift each householder's contribution to public transport by $82.

Ratepayers would also be up for an additional $31 contribution to the general rate while a new targeted rate to fund the Bay's Civil Defence would cost each ratepayer an additional $20.

Western Bay district ratepayers face an overall regional rates rise this year of $64 - a 26 per cent increase. It was driven by $20 for Civil Defence, a $30 lift in the general rate and the introduction of public transport subsidies of $13.

The Long Term Plan outlined how council operating costs would total $1.4 billion over the next 10 years, starting with a $7 million increase next year to $135m.

The extra $7m for 2018-19 was to implement improvements to public transport, meet national monitoring standards and the requirement to monitor fresh water, take a more comprehensive approach to emergency management and biosecurity, and higher loan costs to fund capital works.

Last April's floods that devastated Edgecumbe would cost the council $34m in flood protection and river control schemes over the next two years. Maintaining existing infrastructure would cost $21m.

An ''accommodation upgrade'' involving council buildings would swallow $24m over the next two years. The project was approved prior to the 2018-28 Long Term Plan, with construction beginning last year.

And a further $8.4m would be spent over the next two years on the Kaituna River re-diversion back to the Maketu Estuary and the Te Arawa o Ngatoroirangi/Maketu Estuary enhancement project.

The 10-year plan also announced how the council intended to run unbalanced operating budgets for the first four years of the plan, with the deficits to be funded from reserves.

The deficits caused by revenue falling short of spending had three main causes, including previously agreed commitments to infrastructure projects funded from the Infrastructure Fund like Tauranga's new downtown university campus.

Others were funding infrastructure projects from the Regional Fund and the Rotorua Lakes Protection and Restoration Action Programme, and funding community initiatives through the Environmental Enhancement Fund.

Audit New Zealand's Ben Halford who audited the draft plan said he was satisfied that the unbalanced budgets were financially prudent.

Proposed regional council rate take for Tauranga for year starting July 1.
General rate: $216 (up $21)
Public transport: $144 (up $82)
Civil defence: $20 (new targeted rate)