INDEPENDENT NEWS

3 Waters Has Major Impact On Avg. 3.5% Rate Increase

Published: Mon 29 Jun 2020 12:46 PM
Council has adopted an average 3.5% rate increase as proposed for the 2020/2021 financial year.
The average increase is below the 4.03% forecast in the current 2018/2028 Long Term Plan (LTP) but on target with Council’s commitment to manage the rate impact to be consistently around 3.5% for the remainder of the LTP period.
Mayor Don Cameron said that a significant consideration for Council with rates for this year was in how to respond to the impact of COVID-19.
“Despite calls for territorial authorities to have a zero percent rate rise this year due to the impact of COVID on some in our community on balance Council felt that ultimately this would be more detrimental to ratepayers,” he said.
“As Council does not have reserves or alternative income streams to rates if rate income was to stop so would Council’s spending on the essential services necessary to keep our communities healthy, safe and operating.
With our policy of spending local rates locally this would have an immediate impact on our local economy and communities with the result that our COVID-19 recovery would be slower and more painful.
We are also required to both manage the impact of the COVID-19, which may go on for several years, and to upgrade our core infrastructure due to the need for renewal or to meet government legislated requirements.
A zero percent rate rise would only delay critical infrastructure work and lead to a double digit rate rise for ratepayers in future years.”
Mayor Cameron added that it should also be noted that the final 3.5% was only achieved after two significant rounds of cuts to Council’s initially desired work program.
“Activity managers were instructed to identify anything that was not required to prevent critical infrastructure failure or meet legislated requirements.
This reduced the rate increase from 9% to 4.7%.
A second round of cuts notably from the Parks and Reserves budget allowed Council to reach 3.5%.
The result of this will mean there will be very limited ability to respond to any issues or requests for service beyond standard maintenance of Parks and Reserves.
Mayor Cameron said that just over half of 3.5% is going toward water including the upgrading of the Ohakune Water Treatment Plant, renewal of the water main along Hakiaha St and water, and wastewater pipes on Hospital Hill in Taumarunui.
The remainder of the rate rise is going toward maintaining services and inflation adjustments,” he said.
“The impact of the cuts is illustrated by the fact that rural ratepayers not paying water rates will only have an average rate rise of between 0.6 – 1.1%.
Anyone wanting more information on the rate increase, the planned work program for the year including COVID recovery, next year’s Long Term Plan, or wants to discuss any other issue should make a note to come along to one of the community hui Council is holding around the district over August.
Details will be widely advertised in this paper or see Council’s website or Facebook page.”

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