Mayor fires up over cash grab

DESPITE backtracking from a 400 per cent to a 200 per cent rise, increased State Government’s fees have still forced a flurry of people to surrender their road reserve licences and bore-site leases.

Council even has to consider what it forks out to the Department of Resource Management for bore sites it leases on road reserves.

Mayor Ron Bellingham yesterday fired up over the cash grab and suggested he write to DERM to air his concerns.

Due to public backlash at the time of the increases, DERM already halved the leap, but councillors agreed it would do no harm to pursue the case.

The issue came up at yesterday’s Corporate Services committee meeting after councillors were asked to respond to several applications to surrender road reserve leases.

Deputy Mayor Peter Blundell asked why the issue was being brought before council when ultimately it was a DERM issue.

A council officer explained that there had been such an influx after people faced an increase in their leases from $88 to $228.

“DERM is writing to us to see if we have any objections (to the surrendering) but I’m not sure how we are supposed to object,” the officer said.

He said the council had already paid eight or nine bills after the 400 per cent increase but had since received a small refund.

Any improvements, such as fencing, must be removed before the land is given up and is turned back into Crown road reserve.

Cr Mally McMurtrie expressed concerns this would leave landowners forking out unnecessary money to shift fences back a few metres.

Mayor Bellingham asked who would then take responsibility for the land once it was surrendered.

“Noxious weeds will end up growing in the areas, so who is to take responsibility for that?”

Councillors yesterday voted unanimously to write to DERM to express their concerns, with the subject to be raised again at next week’s general meeting.

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