Already facing a rates increase well above the level of inflation, a $1 million "environmental kick-start fund" to fix six of the region's waterways could cost CHB ratepayers an extra $16.80 in regional rates in 2017/18.
Hawke's Bay regional councillors voted last week to include the one-off 9.88 per cent rates increase in its 2017-2018 draft annual plan to establish the fund.
The money would go towards addressing the problems at six environment hot spots, including Lake Tutira, Ahuriri Estuary, Whakaki Lake and Wairoa River, Lake Whatuma and the Tukituki catchment, and Karamu Stream.
CHB regional councillor Debbie Hewitt was one of two councillors who voted against the increase. While she said the idea was 'commendable', she was concerned about the impact on CHB residents already facing additional costs for Plan Change 6.
Councillor Fenton Wilson said when he floated the idea to his constituents in Wairoa, they did not want a bar of it. The other option was to approve a smaller 4.88 per cent business-as-usual rate rise, but according to a council-approved consultation document, "the bottom line is that many of our rivers, lakes, and streams are a disgrace and, in some cases, getting worse".
Council chairman Rex Graham said it had taken a long time for these areas to reach their current condition.
"It's going to take some investment and energy to turn the clock back."
Councillor Neil Kirton said the proposed rate rise asked Hawke's Bay residents to "recognise the crisis that we're in," an urgent call to clean up waterways.
There were water issues from one end of Hawke's Bay to the other, and the rise was a call to action to recognise these, and that the regional council was ready to respond."
Councillor Tom Belford said this would be a wake-up call for ratepayers, who would have to come to terms with what it cost to deal with environmental issues.
The move would increase regional rates by between $33 and $15 for urban areas, including $3 for Flaxmere, $15 in Wairoa and $16.80 in CHB.
If the council's 2017-2018 draft annual plan is adopted unchanged after public consultation, from April 10 to May 12, the rates increase will take effect from July 1.