Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Toilet tax eyes big bill for more flushes

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Councillors in a small North Island region are planning a toilet tax so those who flush the most will pay extra.

The Matamata-Piako District Council's "pan tax" proposal would cost community organisations up to tens of thousands of dollars extra.

The plan is based on higher charges for those with more toilets on their property.

But it has outraged business and community groups.

Morrinsville College principal John Inger said it was "ludicrous".

His school faces a 3400 per cent increase, from $600 to $20,320, because it has 40 toilets.

He doubted the Ministry of Education would pay the bill and said the college shouldn't have to hold sausage sizzles to pay for water.

"If that would happen, we would be in a position where we would have to cut education to pay for our water or poo."

The school would have to slash staff numbers and departmental budgets.

The council wants to move from the current flat rate of $593 for wastewater system to a user-pays system, which it says is fairer.

Under the plan, non-residential properties with more than one toilet or urinal would be charged $681.39 for each toilet, with a discount for properties having more than five.

The tax would be introduced over three years.

Owners of about 400 properties with more than one toilet have been notified that they would be affected.

Te Aroha Community Hospital fears it would have to close as it would be hit with a 2000 per cent increase for its 22 toilets.

Chief executive Nikki Close said the hospital could not absorb the rise from $600 to $12,000 a year.

"We have already cut our cloth as much as possible because this hospital was in dire straits two years ago when we started. To cut any more staff means we couldn't maintain the services in a safe way."

Aroha Mountain Lodge owner Greg Marshall was outraged and said the extra $6000 on his rates bill would make it harder for him to compete in an already tough market.

And the owner of Matamata's Maple Lodge Motel, Clive Williams, said he would have to put up room rates by $4.50 a night to cover it.

Last night, Matamata-Piako Mayor Hugh Vercoe admitted he had been "whacked around the ears" over the proposal.

"The original proposal was to see what people thought about it, and the answer from people is, 'We don't like it'."

Mr Vercoe said an alternative could be for commercial properties to install water meters at a cost of $500 each.

But he warned that if businesses refused to install water meters, the council would go back to the "pan tax".

- NZ Herald

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