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Retired ratepayer shares wish list

A Wairarapa ratepayer has used an unorthodox method to share his view on Masterton District Council’s Long-Term Plan and its proposed rates rise.

Masterton ratepayer Sid Hayes has put his money where his mouth is this week, publicising his “wish list” for the council’s Long-Term Plan in two local newspaper advertisements.

Hayes said he is a retired ratepayer living in “a modest 12-year-old three-bedroom urban dwelling on a 647m2 section in Masterton”.

He considers himself “fortunate” because he owns his home freehold, but when it comes time to pay his rates, he is forced to draw down on his life savings to top up his superannuation.

The first full-page advertisement he took out in the Times-Age highlighted his plight and the struggle for many of the district’s retirees, who battle to pay rates each year [the second is in this edition].

Hayes said his total annual income is $24,934, while his rates bill for the past financial year was $4675 – almost 20 per cent of his income.

“I’m not asking anyone to start a Give A Little page for me, [well not yet!],” he joked in his ad.

“I also think there must be thousands of Masterton ratepayers out there in a worse position than I am.”

Hayes estimated that his next annual rates bill will be just over $5000, should Masterton District Council’s proposed Long-Term Plan be adopted.

Ten years from now, he estimated his rates bill will top $9000 if rates continue to increase at an average of 6.84 per cent.

This increase is the average rates increase on his property over the past 10 years, Hayes said.

His LTP “wish list” includes demolishing the town hall and municipal building and not replacing them, retaining Waiata House and the leased Queen St office, and completing only essential library repairs and maintenance.

These are the cheapest options that have been put out for consultation.

Hayes, who does not use social media, was praised on Facebook by community members who said his advertisement is “on the button”.

One commenter said she is “struggling to squeeze pennies hard enough”, while another said some elderly ratepayers were “going without food” or heating to pay the bills.

Others who commented encouraged people to make formal submissions to have their voices heard.

So far, more than 150 submissions have been received on the council’s proposed Long-Term Plan.

The LTP sets out the council’s plans for the next 10 years, and how these will be paid for.

The plan is a key driver for determining rates and contains some big decisions on the future of the Town Hall and library buildings, and town centre improvements, as well as service levels.

Council’s strategic planning manager Tania Madden said the response to the consultation has been encouraging so far.

“We want as many people as possible to have their say on what is planned – this is their place, and this is their plan,” she said.

“We received around 350 submissions on the last LTP, and we’re very keen to surpass that.”

Submissions can be made online via the council’s website or using hard-copy submission forms available at Masterton District Library or the council customer service centre, both on Queen St.

Submissions can also be made by phone by calling 06 370 600 during business hours.

Submissions close at 10am on Monday, May 6. – 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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