8 Oct 2012

Farmer challenges council over swamp drainage debt

11:25 am on 8 October 2012

A Northland farmer says Whangarei District Council is rorting farmers to cover its mismanagement of the region's biggest drainage scheme.

The council has raised its targeted rate for the Hikurangi Swamp drainage scheme by 25% to cover a debt of $3 million.

But Hikurangi farmer Ben Smith says the council's own figures show the scheme will still run at a loss of $213,000 a year, increasing the debt.

He says that is illegal for a targeted rate and the scheme should not be in debt in the first place.

Mr Smith says the council has been depreciating the scheme over many years and that money should be available to cover costs such as resource consents.

The council says it believes most Hikurangi farmers are happy with its management.