Meridian request on rates denied

Meridian Energy's rates paid to the Waitaki District Council will not be cut next financial year, but the council will look at the company's claim it is overpaying for the benefits it receives.

Last month, Meridian asked the council in submissions on the 2015-25 long-term plan to reduce its projected 2015-16 rates bill of $937,000 for its five Waitaki hydro generation stations in the Waitaki district, by up to $500,000.

It questioned why it should be paying so much for lakes camping sites, roading and civil defence and wanted those contributions reduced.

The council yesterday, committed to reviewing activities funded by the general rate, lakes camping, civil defence and roading rate differentials.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the council would continue to talk to Meridian ''over the next year or three'' about the company's rates.

Chief executive Michael Ross said discussions would also be held with other South Island local and regional authorities which had generation assets belonging to Meridian and had received the same request.

They were Environment Canterbury and Environment Southland regional councils and the Waimate, Mackenzie and Southland district councils.

The council's chief financial officer, Paul Hope, said staff needed time to further investigate Meridian's request and its impact on other ratepayers.

Anything more than minor changes to the rating policy would require further consultation because they could have significant effects on all ratepayers, not just Meridian.

Staff were also researching the basis and agreements in relation to rates paid by Meridian, including an agreement in the early 1990s between the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand and the council.

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