21 Jun 2012

Southland dairy farmers face rates hike

1:08 pm on 21 June 2012

Southland Regional Council is proposing to increase the rates burden on dairy farmers in its draft long-term plan.

But there will be some easing of that next year, if the plan's confirmed.

The council considered submissions on the draft plan, last week, with many commenting on the proposal to increase the Dairy Differential Rate to $767,000, almost double the current dairy rate of about $390,000.

The council says that's to cover the cost of increased environmental monitoring and resource planning required in the next 18 to 24 months because of the growth in dairying in Southland.

Dairy farmers complained that good farmers would be unfairly hit with the cost of enforcing compliance on a few poor performers.

However, regional council chair Ali Timms says budget cuts will trim back the extent of the rate increase for the next financial year, at least.

She says as a result of submissions council decided to pull the increase back by $255,000. If it is approved the increase next year would be $512,000.

Ms Timms says the council has a new chief executive starting shortly and the council will want him to look at how it can be more efficient and effective, particularly with some of the compliance work.

She says Southland Regional Council will review the dairy differential rate again next year.

It will also confirm a new rate to collect Southland's share of the Animal Health Board's Bovine TB eradication programme when it formally adopts the long-term plan, confirms its budget and sets the rates for 2012-13 at a special meeting on 29 June.