Taggers leave $500,000 clean-up bill

By Kim Fulton

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EYESORE: A woman checks her phone in an alleyway littered with graffiti, off Dalton St, Napier. PHOTO/Duncan Brown
EYESORE: A woman checks her phone in an alleyway littered with graffiti, off Dalton St, Napier. PHOTO/Duncan Brown

Tagging has cost Hawke's Bay councils almost half a million dollars over the past three years.

It has cost Hastings District Council $70,000 a year including paint, wages and management, a council spokeswoman said.

An additional $25,000 was spent each year on associated costs including contributions to a Unison box mural programme, public murals and anti-graffiti education.

The district council dealt with 1021 tags last year, down on 1994 in 2014 and 3076 in 2013.

Hastings District Council had a dedicated environment enhancement team who took responsibility for the removal of graffiti from anything anywhere within the Hastings district, particularly if it was in public view, the spokeswoman said.

"Graffiti in a community has a social cost in that it creates an environment where other vandalism and more serious crimes such as burglary and assault may occur."

Napier City Council spent $65,273 removing 565 tags in the current financial year, chief executive Wayne Jack said.

Last financial year it spent $52,734 removing 638 tags and in the 2013 to 2014 financial year it spent $65,273 removing 975 tags.

Mr Jack said the costs were additional to any money recovered from offenders - which was minimal. He said the council used an in-house resource for graffiti removal. Costs included labour, vehicles and consumables.

Tagging cost Central Hawke's Bay District Council $9012 last financial year and $5394 to date this financial year, according to executive assistant Nicola McKay.

"Much of our costs are associated with regular tagging patrols of tagging hotspots by a contractor which increase during the school holidays, these patrols identify and paint out tags."

The council worked with a contractor to deal with larger areas of tagging or reported tags which were not in hotspot areas.

Ms McKay said the council was proactive with tagging and had been working with paint aerosol suppliers to limit who could buy paint.

In many cases shops would not sell paint to somebody under 18, unless staff were sure it was for legitimate purposes.

Graffiti had cost Wairoa District Council $9117 in the financial year to date, spokesman James Baty said.

Last financial year graffiti and other vandalism cost the council $27,736 In the 2013 to 2014 financial year it cost $28,792.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council facilities and fleet coordinator Stacey Rakiraki said the council did not experience much tagging to its buildings.

They had only been tagged once in the past three years and a handyman removed the small tag for less than $100.

Local Judge Tony Adeane's tough stance on taggers has said to have helped eradicate the problem in the region.

He made national headlines in 2007 after sending teenagers to prison for tagging including a Napier youth whose offending he called "culturally obnoxious".

NZME

- Hawkes Bay Today

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