Rotorua ratepayers face paying an extra $73 to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council this year from proposed increases to bus subsidies and the general rate.

The increase to a new average of $422 represented a 21 per cent rise altogether by a council that had historically kept its rates low by using income from its majority shareholding in the Port of Tauranga.

The council, which has environmental protection, flood control and transport as its major functions, yesterday signed off its 10-year plan for public consultation.

It was revealed that despite Rotorua no longer having to cross-subsidise Tauranga's bus service by about $18 per ratepayer, public transport subsidies would still increase $26 to $61.


The council also wants to lift the general rate to $170 this year - up $32 - while a new targeted rate to fund the Bay's Civil Defence would cost each ratepayer an extra $21.

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.

The Tikitere Diversion Project, part of the Rotorua Lakes Restoration Programme, would cost $7.5m during 2019-20 and 2020-21. It was half funded by the Ministry for the Environment.

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 rates take for Rotorua for year starting July 1
General rate: $170 (up $32)
Rotorua lakes: $112 (unchanged)
Public transport: $61 (up $26)
Air action plan: $28 (down $8)
Urban river scheme: $30 (up $2)
Civil Defence: $21 (new targeted rate)