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Important to have a say

As the Times-Age reported on October 20, Masterton District Council has called for public submissions on a range of proposed changes arising from a review of its rating policies.

The council doesn’t exactly make it easy for the public to engage in the review process, which cynics might suspect is deliberate. But it’s important that ratepayers have their say, because once the changes are approved we’re stuck with them.

One proposal is for the cost of animal control to be re-apportioned so that ratepayers at large are left with a bigger share of the tab, to the benefit of dog owners. This appears to conflict directly with the council’s stated preference for a user-pays approach.

I believe the cost of dog ownership and control should fall on those who make the decision to have a dog. Dog ownership confers no benefit on the wider community, as the council seems to suggest.

If anything, quite the reverse is true, as a story in the Times-Age of Oct 30 [“Council hounded by callouts”] makes clear. Some dogs foul footpaths and berms, others bark incessantly or aggressively rush at pedestrians walking past. I’m a dog lover and former dog owner, but I see no reason why I should subsidise owners by reducing their fees.

My other concern is with the council’s proposal to burden rural ratepayers with a much higher share of the cost of repairing damaged rural roads.

I strenuously oppose any change that imposes an additional cost burden on an already hard-pressed rural sector. The benefits of good rural roads extend far beyond those who live on them.

Masterton is principally a farming town, dependent economically on a thriving rural sector and its ability to obtain goods and services and get its products to market. In addition, urban residents use rural roads to access beaches, rivers, vineyards, walking tracks and hunting areas – as do people from outside the region, thus contributing to valuable tourism revenue.

It follows that urban ratepayers should accept a reasonable share of the burden of maintaining rural roads in recognition of their vital contribution to the regional economy and quality of life.

The consultation document can be viewed on the MDC website, though you have to hunt for it. The public has until November 20 to make submissions.

Karl du Fresne

Masterton

Fair crack

A graffiti artist once wrote, “Don’t vote, the Government will get in.”

Maybe Richard Dahlberg should accept that most people did not heed this advice, and the government “got in”. I’m afraid that I seem to be missing the point of why he is so fearful. He talks about the “Australian experience” as if something dreadful had happened. It was a democratically held referendum. Whether two-headed or three-headed, we have a new government – deserving a fair chance.

Elizabeth Heyns

Carterton

Taking a toll

It was interesting to read Mr Jerling’s letter [October 19] that driving at 120kmh uses 12.5 per cent more fuel than driving at 100kmh. My figure of 20 per cent came from Wikipedia.

The point is more fuel is being used at a higher speed. The science behind the fact is that air resistance, or drag, goes up fourfold when the speed is doubled, and the engine has to work harder to maintain the higher speed, thereby increasing fuel consumption. I didn’t say that this was the only factor for increased consumption. I consider speed to be the major factor, which can be measured.

Mr Jerling accuses me “of making claims which are demonstratively false”. The social cost of a fatality per person is NZ$4.16 million, according to the Ministry of Transport’s website.

Mr Jerling stated in his letter [October 5] that if the whole country is forced to slow down, it costs the economy between $0.5 to $1.3 billion annually. We would have a healthy surplus by eliminating or substantially reducing our road toll.

Ashley Peterson

Masterton

[abridged]

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