Farmers call for roading review
Nearly two-thirds of the funds spent on Marlborough roads goes into rural areas, says Marlborough District Council financial planning committee member David Dew.
But only a fifth of the district's roading revenue comes from that same region, Cr Dew said.
He presented a breakdown of Marlborough's road funding to a Marlborough Federated Farmers meeting at CRT in Blenheim on Thursday.
Most of the farmers there were unhappy with their rates bills and wanted a review of how the district paid for its roads.
Cr Dew explained that 22 per cent of Marlborough's roading revenue came from "general rural", which covered areas such as Ward, Awatere and Upper Wairau.
Those areas had 64 per cent of the road fund spent on them, he said.
Blenheim contributed 44 per cent to the total road fund, getting 17 per cent back through expenditure.
Blenheim vicinity, which incorporated the plains around Blenheim township, paid 20 per cent to roads in return for 14 per cent expenditure, while Picton contributed 12 per cent getting about 5 per cent spent on their roads, Cr Dew said.
The figures highlighted a significant amount of money being transferred from some areas to others, he said.
However, if council did away with the rating districts some people would end up with huge rates bills, particularly farmers with high capital and land values, Cr Dew said.
He did concede, though, that perhaps it was time to review the system for calculating the funding for Marlborough's roads.
The difficulty was calculating the public and private benefit for each road, he said.
"I think the time has come to ask what is fair.
"The system is not perfect and it's not one that council necessarily likes."
Waikakaho Valley farmer Pat O'Sullivan said the whole system of roading needed a review.
"It's inefficient," he said.
Councillor Francis Maher said it was an ancient system that asked people with land to pay for roads.
Cr Dew said he felt some bach owners should be paying more towards the district's roading infrastructure.
Debates over rates bills tended to coincide with tougher economic climates, he said.
Waihopai Valley farmer David Dillon said rates increases, which were 3.57 per cent in Marlborough this year, should be kept in line with a country's rate of inflation, which was 1 per cent in New Zealand at the end of June.
Rai Valley farmer Diane Payton said she would like to see council carry out repairs more promptly rather than waiting until an entire stretch of road needed maintenance.
Cr Dew called for better dialogue between the district council and Marlborough Federated Farmers.
- The Marlborough Express