Water meters centre stage at consultation
Ilona Hanne Disclosure: Editor Ilona Hanne is married to the CEO of the Stratford District Council.
Who should pay when it comes to economic development and water use in the town were two of the topics under the spotlight at a meeting last week. Stratford Mayor Neil Volzke, Deputy Mayor Alan Jamieson and councillors Jono Erwood, Gloria Webby, Min McKay, Peter Dalziel and John Sandford met with members of the community at Whakaahurangi Marae last Tuesday evening for the last of several Long Term Plan (LTP) consultation meetings held around the district during the past month. Volzke opened the meeting by thanking those present for their attendance and explaining the consultation process. He said the LTP consultation document highlighted four key issues, including water conservation. “We want to make a genuine effort to conserve water,” he said, saying it was a key requirement of the resource consent process the council went through. Water meters, he said, were a way to encourage people to be more conservative with their water use. Chrissy Darth said she was concerned it would put financial pressure on people in the community. “This would be quite a significant increase for some of our community.” She said it might be the “final straw” for people already struggling to pay their rates. An increase in cost was also a concern for Lovey Read, Whakaahurangi Marae secretary, who said the marae was used by many people for various events, hui and other gatherings all using water. Councillor Erwood raised the possibility of the marae being eligible for a rates remission, something Mayor Volzke said was possible, but said he couldn’t say what the outcome of such an application might be. The question of who pays was also raised when it came to the proposal for a targeted economic development rate. This, Volzke said, would mean owners of commercial properties in the town would pay more for this specific activity, reducing the cost to residents. Brian Darth, who co-owns Brian Darth Funeral Services with his wife, Chrissy, said any such rates increase for commercial property owners would still affect others, however, as he believed the increased cost would be passed down to the property tenants and then the customers themselves. “The cost is going to be passed on to the consumer. If my power bill goes up for example, my costs go up. We all know it is the man at the bottom of the chain who is going to pay the most.” Chrissy Darth said she felt there wasn’t enough detail as to what the targeted rate would be spent on. “To make a submission I need to know what council are going to spend that money on.” Submissions on the Stratford District Council Long Term Plan closed on May 2.