Granting wishes pushes South Waikato rates up

Requests from South Waikato residents look set to push rates in the district up over 5 per cent.

South Waikato District Council received 75 submissions on the Draft Annual Plan 2014-15 and 29 of those spoke during submission hearings last week.

The council has granted the wishes of several submitters, driving up the proposed rates from 4.7 per cent to 5.16 per cent.

Additional expenditure on Lake Moana Nui and the Waikato Spatial plan contributed to the rise as did a rural recycling station at Kurunui School and upgrades to the Putaruru Pool.

Communications manager Kerry Fabrie said that although there is concern over rising rates, it is a "balancing act" when granting funding and working with the budgets.

"Our community remains concerned about rate revenue increases on one hand and we are very mindful of that," she said.

Submitter Lois Craig believed the council had failed to reach that balance.

Craig spoke on her submission, raising concerns over spending.

"This money is the ratepayers money," she said.

The council's focus should be on paying off the debt instead, she said.

Other decisions are less likely to have an impact on ratepayers' pockets.

The Timber Museum Trust will receive $49,300 while traffic calming initiatives will be introduced to slow vehicles down in Arapuni after several submissions.

And there were plenty of other innovative ideas.

A submission to develop solar energy was commended by mayor Neil Sinclair.

But he said it would be more suited to the South Waikato Investment Fund fund.

"To me it says; here's an idea that can be developed out of our $5 million"'.

Of the 209 submission points raised, transport and general community development were front runners.

Tirau Senior Citizens club president Bill Phillips requested funding toward transport for the town's senior residents.

"There are a few over 90 and they are limited to where they can drive," he said.

Phillips said there have been more seniors with health referrals to Tokoroa, including himself.

Sinclair indicated the idea would go further than the hearings.

And he said it had been an apparent issue since the expansion of Tokoroa Hospital services.

An adjustment of budgets will take place before the implementation on July 1. 

Waikato Times