Life guard services at popular beach spots including Raglan, Pauanui and Whangamata are being threatened by a change in funding.

Surf Life Saving Northern Region chief executive Matt Williams said under funding proposals put forward by the Waikato Regional Council they would be forced to look at cutting back their services.

"We are aware the public expectation is that we continue to provide the very best service possible. Sadly none of the current funding models proposed by council allow for this.

"If the current budget [proposal] is adopted, Surf Life Saving would have to consider reducing services - including weekday beach patrols."


Mr Williams said beaches affected by the funding include Sunset Beach, Raglan, Cathedral Cove, Hahei, Hot Water Beach, Tairua, Pauanui, Onemana, Whangamata Harbour, and Whiritoa.

Waikato Regional Council is asking ratepayers if they would be happy to pay for funding towards Surf Life Saving, Coastguard and rescue helicopter services.

As part of ongoing consultation on the council's 2016/17 budget, ratepayers have been given three options for funding, ranging from $2.07 to $3.74 per property.

Mr Williams said Surf Life Saving would prefer a rate of $5.81.

Surf Life Saving Northern Region currently receives funding from many councils including the Waikato Regional Council, Waikato District Council, Thames-Coromandel District Council, Hauraki District Council and Waipa District Council.

But Waikato Regional Council chairwoman Paula Southgate said the new funding model would mean a greater number of people across the region would now be contributing.

"The primary driver for the regional council being involved was to provide a central collection point, which saves them costs every year, and also to spread the benefit and cost of those emergency services across a wider regional community.

"Rather than just a few geographic areas within the community, all ratepayers pay a very small amount, $3 or less, all paying a portion to keep themselves and others safe on our beaches across the region."

Mr Williams called the funding options "a step backwards", but Ms Southgate said all three provided more funding than Surf Life Saving was receiving from councils in Waikato.

"The amount we're proposing went through a very robust process.

"We got the buy-in of the mayoral forum, they came together and said that it should be collected in one place.

"Two options are a little bit more than status quo, and the third option is an increased level of service.

"I know that they would like an even further increase in the level of service, but this has been through feedback of all the councils, and those are the proposals that people felt comfortable putting out to the ratepayer in the first instance."

Ms Southgate said the council was open to hearing feedback on the budget and would consider all options before it was finalised.

"We're aware that community services do struggle for funding but we don't see ourselves as anything other than a partner funder."

Submissions on the Waikato Regional Council 2016/17 Annual Plan close on Monday, April 11 at 4pm.

Three people have died at Raglan over the recent summer.

On Christmas Day, Chinese nationals Xia Liu, 38, and Ji Shun Li, 33, drowned after getting into difficulty in a rip at Ruapuke Beach in Raglan.

In January, 28-year-old Mingy Uerata died after he got into difficulty while swimming and drifted out to sea at Raglan.

Annual statistics for last year are not yet available. However, in 2014 there were 10 drownings of all types in Waikato.