Rates may rise to fund rural roading work

Early indications are pointing to a possible rate rise of 2.6% in Waitaki next year to help pay for a $2.9 million upgrade of the district's crumbling rural roads.

The Waitaki District Council this week proposed to include a $2.9 million five-year project to service the rural roading network in the 2014-15 draft annual plan, which would be subject to public submissions next month.

Council roading manager Michael Voss said the Rural Resilience Waitaki Project would provide a means of improving rural roads ''in a focused manner''.

''The rural roading network servicing Waitaki has been subject to some criticism over a number of years, which has resulted in a new contract being established with improved service delivery requirements and some innovations.

''These changes, coupled with a number of concurrent storm events have demonstrated vulnerabilities within the network.''

Although efforts to improve the roads were under way, the budget was ''inadequate'', he said.

''This gap is becoming even more of a concern when the external factors of reduced subsidy, land and heavy vehicle use, plus weather events, are imposing far greater effects to the network's integrity than it was ever designed for.''

Mayor Gary Kircher said although the project would have a rating impact, rural roads in the district needed substantial work and ''were going backwards'' at a time when they were getting more and more use.

''We need to be looking after the rural community.''

The council's 2014-15 draft annual plan omnibus report, released this week, indicated the council would collect a total of $28,999,000 in rates next year, compared with $28.2 million in the previous year.

Last year the council approved a total rate rise of 3.9%.

The draft annual plan would also include $40,000 to fund the Waitaki Guardians, as well as $32,000 to improve footpaths in Kakanui, and $20,000 to promote Oamaru in the Gigatown competition run by Chorus.

Parking around the Oamaru Historic Precinct would also benefit from $42,500 to improve parking facilities around Wansbeck St.

- andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz

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