Comment: Federated Farmers Hawke's Bay Provincial President Jim Galloway questions where funding for Napier Port will come from.

No Hawke's Bay farmer will deny the importance of the Napier Port.

As our region's single biggest economic enabler, associated with around half of the region's economy, the port is our very own link to the world. Without it, the Hawke's Bay economy would not be experiencing the strong growth we have seen over recent years, and a lot of this links back to the primary sector.

However, hearing from the regional council that the port requires $320 – $350 million of investment over the next decade for it to continue to support the economy raises alarm bells to me about where these funds are coming from.

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On further investigation it seems we have two options: maintain 100 per cent ownership at around $956 on average per ratepayer, or sell a considerable chunk of this critical asset.

Read more from Federated Farmers here.

While $956 is the forecasted impact per ratepayer, no details are provided about the rating mechanism to be used to recover rates for this project.

If the council were to consider funding the port's development via rates, we would expect to see the council utilising either a uniform annual general charge or perhaps targeted rates to cost recover. This would go some way to more fairly spread the rates increase across all ratepayers – urban and rural.

Federated Farmers frequently submits to the council about the perils of using land values as a means of calculating what proportion of the general rate each ratepayer contributes.

Where there is a benefit to all ratepayers, there is no reason why a ratepayer with a high land value should have to contribute more than a ratepayer with a low land value.

Federated Farmers will seek clarification on this matter when we lodge our submission.

We will also be asking for details about the benefits of this investment back to ratepayers and asking the council as to whether ratepayers can expect some sort of rates decrease over time as the port investment is paid off.

I urge you all to read the consultation document as provided by the council and to take the time to submit.