A Stratford farmer says getting his rates notice in the post came with an unpleasant surprise this month.

"I'm being asked to pay six times over for the rugby stadium in New Plymouth."

John Crofsky has a property on Warwick Road, and says while he knew ratepayers were being billed for the stadium levy, he wasn't expecting a bill of over $300.

"I knew we were all going to pay a levy for the repairs to Yarrow Stadium but the way I understood it was we would each pay one lot. I have six blocks of land and so have six bills at nearly $60 each."

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John is one of many people affected by the way the Taranaki Regional Council (TRC) charges rates.

In May the TRC voted to spend $50 million repairing and upgrading the stadium to after the stands were discovered to be earthquake prone and therefore unusable as they were.

To cover the cost of this, a stadium levy is being billed to ratepayers as a targeted rate, meaning farmers like John pay for each block of land they have, rather than just one.

This, says John, isn't fair.

"I can have just 30 or 40 acres and be billed more than a neighbour who has 1000 acres (400ha). That doesn't seem fair."

John says he would rather his few hundred dollars went to a local project, than a regional one.

"Stratford needs a new pool. I would rather the money went there, not the stadium. It's taking money out of Stratford. There are people paying a levy for a stadium they will never visit."

He would rather a multi-sport facility was built, rather than one just for rugby, he adds.

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"In the 1960s, lots of people went to the rugby games. It was big back then, and the crowds came. Matches played in the afternoon and the whole family would come. Now we have fewer and fewer people coming, but they want more money for the stadium. It isn't right."

New Plymouth Councillor and Sport Taranaki chair Gordon Brown says he received a call from John last week about the levy.

"I was really taken aback by the anger in John's voice. He's a hard-working farmer and can't believe what the TRC are doing to him by using this system of targeted rate."

New Plymouth District Councillor Gordon Brown has started a petition calling for TRC to reduce the spend the on the stadium.
New Plymouth District Councillor Gordon Brown has started a petition calling for TRC to reduce the spend the on the stadium.

John isn't the only person to call Gordon about the issue.

"I'm getting several calls a day from people all over Taranaki who are very upset with the regional council. I urge everyone to sign my online petition which closes on August 30."

The petition he refers to was launched by himself along with Hugh Barnes, spokesman for the Taranaki Sports Collective.

The petition calls for the TRC to reduce the $50 million refurbishment programme to no more than $33m for the repair and currently has more than 1900 signatures on it.

www.change.org/p/taranaki-residents-say-no-to-50m-stadium-fix