Farmers' lobby calls for DOC to pay rates

Federated Farmers wants the Department of Conservation (DOC) to pay rates in the Mackenzie District.

The issue was raised following submissions to the Mackenzie District Council's 2014-15 annual plan by Federated Farmers chairman Greg Anderson and member Neil Campbell.

Federated Farmers, in one of its submissions, said it believed council should lobby central government on being allowed to rate land that was under the control of DOC.

"Through the New Zealand local body association we urge you to use the strength of that group to change legislation that the Department of Conservation pay rates.

"All DOC land requires access by public road. And, as such they must share the cost of maintaining the roading network."

Submissions relating to general rates were also made by the group.

"Federated Farmers understand the constraints that the council has with legislation regarding targeted rates being no more than 30 per cent of rates collected. We feel the council is moving further away from this principle."

Submissions were also made to the council regarding roading, with particular concerns on ratepayers not benefiting from the district-wide amalgamation.

Federated Farmers also noted its concerns surrounding investment income being "run down" and there being no clear indication in the annual plan on how the investments would be increased.

Public toilets also got special mention by the group, with requests the council investigates other ways of funding the amenities.

Submitters had their say on the various issues during the council's annual plan hearing last month. Five of the 13 submitters were heard by the council.

Mackenzie Rugby Football Club president Mitch Taylor was among them. The club wanted a reduction in its water charge, saying the water was solely used for the shower and kitchen, at the School Rd premises.

The club caters for more than 100 members across the district, but its finances were not in good heart. Last year the club lost $1000 on top of a $4000 loss in 2012 and it was now asking the council to forgo water costs for upcoming usage.

The council later rejected the submission, but said it would work with the club to reduce their water usage and increase water efficiency.

The Timaru Herald