Roading subsidy slammed as unfair burden on rural areas

A reduction in the roading subsidy by the New Zealand Transport Agency has been slammed by some Waitaki District Council councillors as another example of rural areas suffering while cities benefit because they have more votes.

The council's committee of the whole was told this week the agency had reduced the Waitaki district's financial assistance rate for roading from 57% to 56% and for capital works from 67% to 66%.

That means ratepayers will have to fund another $140,000 next year for roading.

Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton said that was another example of the Government, without much warning, loading another burden on ratepayers, which was unacceptable.

The district was competing with cities like Auckland, which had more voters, he said.

Chief executive Michael Ross said the average ratepayer in the Waitaki district paid four times more for roading than a city resident.

Roading made up so much of the council's budget because of the rural network.

The council is to write to Minister of Transport Steven Joyce expressing its views, but Cr Jim Hopkins said it should be made a political issue before the general election.

Other councillors pointed out road maintenance in rural areas was an important part of New Zealand's economy, getting primary produce out to markets.

Cr Craig Dawson said the primary production sector was doing better than any other sector in New Zealand.



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