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MASTERTON RATES REVIEW: Getting the balance right

Masterton community members are being urged to provide feedback on a wide range of changes to how rates get charged that are being proposed by Masterton District Council [MDC].

Consultation on the changes – which include who pays for animal control, community events, and storm damage, as well as a shift in the ratio paid by urban and rural property owners for general roading costs and repair to storm-damaged roads – starts today and will run for a month.

“We really worked hard to come up with the best result for the highest number of people. I’m very pleased,” Mayor Gary Caffell said.

“The thing I would say too, at this stage to the public, is that this is a consultation document.

“You have every opportunity now if you don’t like it to let us know. And let us know why you don’t like it.

“I would urge the public if you are unhappy about anything to make sure you submit,” he said.

Councillor Stella Lennox said she and other councillors campaigned for better rates for all.

“I know that every individual won’t be happy, but I believe the community can rest assured that your elected councillors have worked really hard at this task to get the balance right,” she said.

A report on the issue to an extraordinary MDC meeting on Wednesday set out in detail the proposed changes.

Also covered were changes that were considered but not included, namely the impact of logging trucks, any changes to commercial rates, reducing rates on high-value properties, and the rates remission policy.

The report noted a small number of high-value urban residential properties pay higher rates than others – over $6000 a year in some cases.

“We have had feedback from some of these ratepayers that their rates are too high. Council considered whether it needed to amend its policy to address these concerns [eg, by introducing a cap] but isn’t proposing to do so.”

The report said the combined effect of the proposed changes is a reduction in the share of CV rates from 55.8 to 50.9 per cent and an increase in the share of uniform and service charges from 28 to 32.9 per cent.

MDC’s main proposed rates changes

Animal control costs

MDC currently collects 85 per cent of animal control costs from dog owners, and 15 per cent from the wider community.

The proposal is to collect 70 per cent from dog owners, and the remaining 30 per cent from the community.

Community events and groups

At the moment charges for things like the Christmas parade, cultural festival, and support for community groups are partly funded by central government and other sources, and partly by a rate based on property value.

The proposal is to change this to a targeted uniform charge [TUC].

“This policy was based on the assumption that people who own properties with a higher CV generally have a greater ability to pay. Changing to a TUC means every property owner will pay the same dollar amount no matter how much their property is worth,” the report said.

Rural/Urban roading charges

MDC currently allocates 31 per cent of the roading costs it pays to urban ratepayers and 69 per cent to rural ratepayers. This would change to 30 per cent urban and 70 per cent rural.

Storm damage

MDC’s costs for repairing roads damaged by storms are partly subsidised by Waka Kotahi. At present, urban ratepayers pay 35 per cent of the balance, and rural ratepayers 65 per cent. The proposal is to reduce the urban share to 10 per cent and increase the rural share to 90 per cent.

“All of the road repairs damaged by storms have been in rural areas, so those in rural areas benefit more from this work,” the report said.

“We are, however, mindful that urban ratepayers still access and use these roads on a less frequent basis.”

Recognising urban properties’ access to water and wastewater

For services that benefit the whole district, water and wastewater costs are currently split 77.5 per cent urban and 22.5 per cent rural. The proposal is to change this to 79 per cent urban and 21 per cent rural.


Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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