Farmers' case rejected

Duncan Butcher
Duncan Butcher
Lower Taieri farmers will not see a greater proportion of their flood protection rates paid by the wider community after failing to make a ''compelling'' case for change.

A group of farmers made submissions to last year's annual plan asking for the general rate contribution to the lower Taieri flood protection scheme be reviewed.

Some suggested the general rate contribution should be as high as the Leith flood protection scheme's 7% instead of the present 4%.

Council financial director Wayne Scott said after reviewing the information and council policies there appeared to be ''little grounds'' for additional rates contribution.

''It's sensible where it is in my view.''

Cr Duncan Butcher, who chaired last year's annual plan hearings, said submitters made many emotive arguments about the importance of the airport and the roading network for recreation, which were protected by the lower Taieri scheme.

''There was nothing new that one could really consider to make a case for an increase in percentage.''

As a result, he could not see how the council could justify making a case to change it, especially as the impact on the district's rates was very little.

''The figures show it doesn't make a hell of a lot of difference.''

Cr Bryan Scott said he believed the areas protected by the Leith scheme were of significantly higher importance than that of the Taieri scheme.

''It'll have chain reaction to other schemes [and] that is not justified.''

Cr David Shepherd said it was important if the community wanted a change that it make a compelling case for it.

''I don't believe there is anything compelling to warrant change.''

Chairman Stephen Woodhead said there had been significant growth in people using the airport, especially domestic passengers, which backed up farmers' arguments that it was an important piece of infrastructure.

The bottom of the runway, in particular, was protected by the scheme and the airport was the second largest ratepayer in the area, although the operational areas of the airport were not rateable by law.

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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