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Thames-Coromandel District Council is floating an 11.4 per cent average rates increase for the coming financial year. PHOTO: THOMAS COKER

Regional rates to rise 5.8 per cent

A 5.8 per cent increase in Waikato Regional Council rates could be on the cards for the next financial year, subject to repayment decisions of an abandoned Hauraki Plains pump station project.
The Muggeridge’s pump station drainage project in Ngātea was designed to deliver two 2-cumec pumps, a culvert and canal and aimed to provide a continued drainage service for the community and farmland in the Muggeridge area, from Kaihere Rd to the east and south, Pouarua Rd to the west and Orchard Rd to the north.
Regional council pulled the pin on the project after the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment declined shovel ready funding of $5.7 million.
According to a report presented at its meeting on February 9, ratepayers have not yet contributed financially towards the Muggeridge’s pump station project as it did not complete the construction phase.
However, a debt of more than $1.8m has accumulated from work undertaken to date, and, with interest added over a 10-year period, this figure will total $2,523,570.
A council spokesperson told The Profile that while Waikato Regional councillors have confirmed an estimated increase in rates of 5.8 per cent, it was subject to a decision regarding the funding of the Muggeridge’s pump station debt repayment.
It was agreed that on February 23, staff will report back to council on options for the funding of the Muggeridge’s programme for inclusion in the final annual plan budget.
The pump station has been accounted for in the budget at a higher amount than the council is likely to land on at its meeting later this month, they said.
Regional council chief executive Chris McLay said the rates increase was heading towards the double-digits, but staff brought this number down to something more “realistic”.
“In the LTP [Long Term Plan], the previous council had signalled, with the assumptions they had made, a 1.6 per cent increase, and in the last year or so the world’s pretty much changed on us.
“We’ve had to face a few other realities in terms of what that means to our business,” he said at the February 9 meeting.
“We’ve been really mindful that ratepayers have got to pay it, so we’ve done our best to bring you something we believe meets the levels of service that we’ve signalled but is appropriate to take out to the public.”