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SWDC to vote on rate rise of 19.8pc

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] will vote today to adopt its annual plan and rates resolution, with meeting papers signalling a significant rates hike for the district.

The agenda for today’s SWDC council meeting includes a rates resolution for the total rates for the next financial year to increase by 19.8 per cent – a significant variation on the uplift of 3.19 per cent previously signposted in the long-term plan [LTP].

The uplift follows previous SWDC decisions to invest further in infrastructure, particularly water-related infrastructure.

The council previously decided to increase the water budget to $4.9 million, from the LTP forecast of $3.5 million. A further decision added $500,000 to spending to help upgrade the Martinborough wastewater treatment plant, after the issue of an abatement notice relating to the plant.

Passing the rates resolution will enable SWDC to strike its rates for next year.

The agenda documents for today’s meeting include the draft annual plan [to be voted on], which, in turn, includes a message from SWDC mayor Martin Connelly and interim chief executive Paul Gardner.

“Faced with the decision whether to confirm our original intentions for the coming year or amend them, regrettably, we must amend them.

“The environment has altered so much in those two years that we must alter what we originally planned to do in the 2023-24 year. Amid difficult times, your elected members and Council staff have worked hard to maintain services.”

The message from Connelly and Gardner listed difficulties, including the uncertainty of government direction – including funding plans – susceptibility to extreme weather due to climate change, the rural road reserve having been exhausted, the need to maintain water and wastewater services in the face of rising water standards and deteriorating infrastructure, challenges relating to the Martinborough wastewater plant, and the rising cost of materials.

“Reluctantly, we must report that to deal with these difficulties, we will need to increase the Council’s income from rates by 19.8 per cent,” the message said.

“This increase equates to $4.21 million on top of the 2022-23 budget, making a total of $25.45 million.”

Connelly and Gardner’s message said more than half the proposed budget would be spent maintaining and operating core infrastructure, including roads, footpaths, water treatment and supply, and wastewater treatment.

Other spending would be focussed on amenities like parks, playgrounds, libraries, council buildings, reserves, public gardens, and cemeteries.

Rates would also cover waste management, rubbish collection, and recycling.

The message thanked the 180 people who made formal submissions on the 2023-24 annual plan consultation document and the many others who submitted using other channels.

“The Council has recognised the community’s feedback through the consultation process, and our decisions since then reflect that feedback.

“We have also maintained our fees at very similar levels to the previous year. We know that we will continue to have some tricky times. Influences such as climate change and the state of the economy are permanent or entrenched, and they can have an impact on our assets or our capacity to fulfil our plans.”

Today’s SWDC meeting is at 10am at the Waihenga Centre in Martinborough.

– NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZOnAir

1 COMMENT

  1. One can’t help but feel very cynical about the value of participating in so-called “consultation”. 180 people got off their backsides (in good faith) thinking they might make a difference. The statement says that the Council has “recognised” the community’s feedback and “our decisions since then reflect that feedback”. To me, that is just flannel. As far as I can see, there is no evidence of council taking on board the basic message that a rates increase of the magnitude proposed is quite unreasonable under current circumstances (and given previous increases) and that Council should learn to tighten its belt like the rest of us. In fact, what do we have…….an actual INCREASE in the total rates proposal from 15.9 % canvased in the consultation document to 19.8%. How does that reflect feedback? I notice also that there is no reference in the statement to the differential between urban and rural rates increases, the issue that quite rightly upset a lot of people and was the subject of much “feedback”. In my view, the Council’s approach amounts to bullying…..it has the power so it does what it wants, so much for democracy.

    Bill Armstrong

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