31 May 2017

Edgecumbe rates bump unfair - resident

10:21 am on 31 May 2017

A resident of flood-hit Edgecumbe is furious rates in the town are likely to go up to pay for the damage.

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Residents described a "wall of water" running through the town during the flooding disaster in April. Photo: RNZ

Almost the entire settlement of 1600 people was evacuated after a stopbank on the Rangitāiki River collapsed in April, flooding the town.

More than 200 families are still unable to return home.

The Whakatāne District Council had been planning to increase rates 2.9 percent for the next year.

But it said fixing the damage caused by the flooding meant rates would now need to go up 3.9 percent.

Shane and Kristy Lowe are among those who not been able to return home, and are temporarily renting in Whakatāne.

Mrs Lowe said having to pay more rates did not seem fair and she knew families who have been able to return home who were not happy about having to pay rates at all.

"A lot of people aren't actually able to live in their homes or use the facilities that they pay for in their rates.

"[For example] rubbish collection won't happen for quite a while. Water and sewerage ... they're going to need a lot of time to get back on track."

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Whakatāne Mayor Tony Bonne Photo: RNZ / Leon Menzies

Whakatāne Mayor Tony Bonne said the council was doing all it could to keep the rates rise as low as possible.

The only way to cover the cost the disaster was for the whole district to work together and pay their bit, he said.

"To be honest, if we didn't do that the smaller communities wouldn't survive.

"It's just one of those things, you're part of the family ... you help each other out."

Mr Bonne estimated the total cost of last months' flooding was at least $20 million.

Eastern Bay of Plenty Chamber of Commerce chief executive Gerard Casey said the simple reality was rates would have to rise if the area was going to get back on its feet.

"I think people are really resilient but they have to have an understanding that their business has been impacted and we've got to find a way to get Edgecumbe, and the wider district too, back up to where they were."

The Whakatāne District Council will decide on the rates it will charge when it votes on the 2017/2018 Annual Plan next month.

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