Flooding bill facing wave of objections

KELSEY WILKIE
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2014

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Tairua residents are baulking at regional council plans to spend $600,000 on flood protection work and directly charge them for 75 per cent of the cost.

They want the work, at Grahams Creek in Ocean Beach Rd, to be done but they don't like the way the council proposes to fund it.

A tenth of the cost would come from the general rate, 15 per cent from a targeted Coromandel Peninsula rate and the rest from the properties that benefit from the works.

The area has flooded many times over the years, the last time in December.

Tairua residents were out in force during the regional council's hearing on its Draft Annual Plan for 2014/15.

The plan confirms a commitment in the 2012-2022 Long Term Plan to the $600,000 floodway improvement, conditional on Thames-Coromandel District Council upgrading Manaia Rd causeway bridge and a landowner giving access where flood improvements will take place.

Gerald Ruys of Tairua thought those in the affected area should not be expected to pay extra rates as they were the ones at a disadvantage.

"I do not think it is right for WRC to class this as ‘user-pays policy', classing these ratepayers as living in the area of benefit, instead we consider these residents to be living in the area of disadvantage.

"As flood victims they have suffered damage to their properties, and most likely a devaluation of their properties through no fault of their own."

This was a case of disadvantaging the disadvantaged, he said.

"I do not think it is fair for them to be expected to pay $600,000 of a target rate as a condition for getting the essential services that they need.

"Ratepayers have a right to expect these services to be provided by the council in return of the annual rates and levies."

Ken Tanner of Tairua was also against the targeted rate.

"Property owners should not be considered beneficiaries when they receive no benefit."

Derek Boyd had no objection to the targeted rate but thought every ratepayer in Tairua should pay, rather than just the surrounding property owners.

He said sharing the cost would make it fair for all, as he believed all property owners would benefit from the improvement.

Joyce Birdsall, who owns a property in Tairua that is not included in the targeted rate, said she would be happy to contribute to the cost and thought all of Tairua should be included in paying for the upgrade.

She said she would like to see a solution sooner rather than later.

"You're not going to be able to please everyone."

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- Waikato Times

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