The hard word has been put on Masterton District Council [MDC] to keep this year’s rates rise in the single digits.
Masterton Ratepayers and Residents Association president Lyn Riley spoke to elected members at last week’s council meeting, telling them the community “cannot afford a double-digit increase in rates”.
“Frankly, most of the community simply cannot
afford an increase full stop.”
The council has not yet released its rates rise estimate for the 2023-24 year.
Riley said the association viewed rates increases as the council’s “top priority now”.
“We have just been through a covid pandemic and are now in an inflation pandemic,” she said.
“Cost pressures are facing the whole community, and we are heading into a recession.
“The foodbanks are busier than they have been in years and we have a fragile economy where house prices are falling, and interest rates are rising.
“Mortgage payments are increasing faster than rents.
“High prices mean every household is feeling the financial pressure, and people will be looking to our leaders for answers.
“You are our community leaders, and we are asking that you lead by example when it comes to rate increase affordability.”
Riley asked that MDC focus on core business – “which we suggest to you is essential infrastructure: water, roads, footpaths, street lighting, parks, and reserves”.
“Everyone is having to endure belt-tightening and we believe the council should too.
“Otherwise, rates increases will be the final nail in the coffin for many of us.”
Riley said the association is compiling a list of examples of the council’s wasteful spending “that we will save for another day” and offered up suggestions on savings.
“Staff numbers doubled during the last triennium,” she noted.
“Are you prepared to stop employing or reduce staff numbers?
“This should not be a race to spend money on silverware to eat our bread and butter when fingers will do.”
She also asked that the council put its climate change action plan on the back burner, rid itself of social housing responsibilities, and put a hold on CBD upgrades and the civic facility project.
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air