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Council told to stick to its knitting

The Masterton Ratepayers and Residents Association [MRRA] has asked the council to stick to its knitting for the Long-Term Plan [LTP] and to invest in core services and basic infrastructure instead of “nice-to-haves”.

MRRA president Lyn Riley told elected members at last week’s LTP hearing that the proposed rates increase of 10.6 per cent, along with forecasted increases over the next five years, are “simply unsustainable for many households and businesses”.

“The rates requirement is set to rise from $42 million to $62m during the first half of the plan,” Riley said.

“That is a 50 per cent increase in rates over the next five years.

“These are not just numbers – they represent the livelihoods of our ratepayers and residents and the future of our community.

“Every dollar spent on nice-to-haves is a dollar diverted away from the must-haves that are vital to our community’s wellbeing.”

Riley said rates arrears are currently at an “all-time-high”, with ratepayers selling their homes in a depressed market as they struggle to pay their debts.

“We believe the repercussions of these increases will be profound for our community if all preferred options in the LTP are adopted.”

She said the cumulative effect of the proposed increases in the LTP disproportionately affects those on fixed and lower incomes, “undermining their quality of life and wellbeing”.

“Currently we are in the middle of a double-dip recession and a spiralling cost of living crisis.

“Families are struggling to put food on the table, and homelessness in Masterton is on the rise.

“That $6 cup of coffee on Queen St that council says is all it will cost for a town hall … it’s actually a loaf of bread, without butter, for many families.”

On behalf of the MRRA, Riley asked councillors to undertake a line-by-line review of each department’s budget to find further internal savings before the LTP is adopted.

“We completely understand that tough decisions lie ahead as you prepare to deliberate and adopt the LTP in June.

“Masterton Ratepayers and Residents Association urge you all to make the right decision even if it’s not the easiest decision.”

Masterton District Council will deliberate on LTP submissions in June.

-NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded
through NZ On Air

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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