So far fewer than 200 people have turned up at Waikato District Council drop-in sessions to learn more about the Council’s Annual Plan, and changes that will see targeted wastewater rates increase by between $47 and $254.
Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson says, “I’m surprised and disappointed by the low turnout. We’re offering three options for consideration by 11,000 of our ratepayers who benefit from wastewater services and we want to ensure they are properly informed and consulted.
The options offered involve the proposed scale of works the Council undertakes to mitigate the risk of wastewater overflows in the district.
Mayor Sanson says, “I can only hope that our ratepayers feel they have been informed sufficiently by the printed material we have mailed to them and the video and other explanatory material we have posted on our website.”
The Council has already run 12 drop-in consultation sessions at nine different locations throughout the district and there are only two drop-in sessions still to be held before consultation closes at 9am on Monday 15 May. The two remaining sessions are at the Ngaruawahia Community House in Galileo St on Wednesday 10 May from 4pm to 7pm, and at the Meremere Hall in Heather Green Ave on Thursday 11 May starting at 6.30pm.
So far the Council has received 259 submissions which are running 51% in favour of Option 2 which includes the preparation of long term plans to protect waterways and environmentally sensitive areas. Under this option, targeted wastewater rates would rise by between $78 and $230 depending on where the ratepayer lives.
The proposed rate changes are complicated by the fact that the Council is still in the process of moving from five different wastewater rates throughout the district to a single district-wide rate that will be introduced in the coming year.
Most Waikato district ratepayers are not affected by the decision as 22,000 ratepayers are on septic tanks and are not connected to a wastewater system.
General rates are set to rise by less than 3% and other targeted rates will follow the rate of inflation.
For town-based residential ratepayers who are connected to a wastewater system the impact of the rate rise will vary considerably depending on property value, location, the wastewater works option chosen and other services offered, and so the Council is urging ratepayers to check the impact on their individual rates with an online rates calculator on the Council’s website at www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/rid.
The decision to consult ratepayers about an expanded programme of wastewater works follows criticism of the Council last year after spills closed Raglan Harbour three times in a matter of four months.
In the last financial year the Council reported a total of 33 wastewater overflows during dry weather, and 59 wastewater overflows altogether throughout the district (including spills during wet weather). Most, however, were small spills on land which were cleaned up and resolved the same day they were reported.
In its Annual Plan consultation document the Council reports that blockages have caused more than 80% of the wastewater overflows in the district in the past three years (2014-16). So all the options for consultation include a public education programme designed to reduce overflows by improving understanding, and changing behaviour about what can and cannot be flushed down the toilet or poured down the kitchen sink.
For more information please contact:
Senior Communications Advisor
Waikato District Council
07 824 8633