Council debates forestry levy and rate hikes

Friday 21 Jun 2024

Forestry companies could face a rate hike to cover legal costs as well as a “pay as you go” levy to cover road damage, under a Gisborne District Council proposal. While committing to investigate these funding options from forestry to help cover sector-related costs, the council has also adopted a higher roading-targeted differential of 13.75, up from 12.5, and a new woody debris-targeted rate.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz said during deliberations for the three-year plan on Tuesday: “Part of our job is to investigate whether we are doing our jobs in the best possible way. Are our rate systems fit for purpose? At this stage, if we prosecute a company, we do not cover our costs with the small amount under the law that they are allowed to be fined,” she said.

Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said for every $1 million spent on legal and investigation fees, “you may get $250,000 back”.

If the Resource Management Act changed, the additional targeted rate for court and prosecution costs might not proceed, she said. If there were changes, Thatcher Swan said fines from successful prosecutions might cover council costs. The council will also investigate introducing a forestry levy for road repairs.

For forestry companies, this would more likely align the charges for road damage with when they received revenue, compared with the targeted rate based on property values.

“A forestry levy would be a ‘pay as you go’ or ‘user pay’ principle,” a council staff report said.

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Source: Scoop
Image credit By Nurg - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 link

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