Community board calls for plan to cover costs of road repairs

The chairman of Whanganui District Council's rural community board said there's been too much dawdling around the issue of special rates to cover damage to rural roads by logging trucks.

David [Tex] Matthews told Tuesday's council meeting that, while Whanganui was still discussing the matter, other councils had got things sorted out.

He said the idea of special rating to recover costs for the expected damage was something his board had "kicked around for six years at least".

"We have the tools to mitigate the damage and one of those is targeted rates, but it's been a battle to get some traction on this," Mr Matthews said.

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He said Ruapehu's district council was looking at a special differential rate and the Far North council was considering something similar.

"It disappoints me a bit to see other councils making headway on this issue. We've jumped up and down about this issue long enough while other councils have had the balls to get up and have a go at doing something."

Mr Matthews said a paper on the impact of forestry harvesting on rural roads was presented by district council roading engineer Rui Leitao at the Zone 3 community board meeting held in the city last weekend.

The report said the impact of harvesting the more than 28,000ha of forests across the Whanganui region will be "significant" between 2020-30.

It said the key question was how to raise the extra road renewal funds required to achieve the levels of service the community expected, as no financial assistance was likely from the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Maintaining existing standards on those rural roads during that 10-year period is estimated to cost $20 million.

Mr Matthews said his community board would soon be holding a workshop focusing on targeted rates and he expected that to provide more details about what landowners could be charged, as well as the potential cost of damage to rural roads.

Councillor Sue Westwood asked whether there had been any thought given to going to Government to get a bigger slice of road taxes.

She said the East Coast had been given a 100 per cent subsidy to cover road damage some time ago.

Mr Matthews said the board was looking at all the options and that included seeking financial assistance from the New Zealand Transport Agency.