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The wait for rates

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] does not yet know what next year’s rate rise percentage will be and expects a decision to be made at the end of the month.

Last Friday, the council resolved to increase spending next year by an additional one million dollars, with half of that coming from rates and the balance from the central government ‘Better Off’ funding.

The $500,000 extra ratepayer-funded spending had not been consulted on as part of the annual plan process.

At the meeting, a council finance spokesperson said the additional expenditure could result in an overall rates increase for the district of 24.7 per cent, but stressed this was an initial estimate.

Consultation documents had proposed a rise of about 29 per cent for rural ratepayers, and about 10 per cent for urban.

The additional spending will be on wastewater repairs in Martinborough and Greytown, and is likely to impact urban ratepayers.

Yesterday, SWDC interim chief executive Paul Gardner was not able to say what next year’s overall rate rise or rural/urban split will be.

“This figure is currently unknown,” he said.

“Council is yet to complete the rate-setting process and won’t be making a decision until June 28, when they are presented with the final budget.”

Gardner expects a decision on rates will be made on that date, if everything goes as planned.

“The decision to raise rates revenue is not taken lightly,” Gardner said.

“Councils all over New Zealand are facing similar issues – as a responsible territorial authority, we need to deliver a certain level of service despite increasing costs, more frequent and more severe weather events, and tighter regulatory requirements.”

SWDC was asked if the current rates increase percentage is not yet known by SWDC and/or its finance team, or if the current rates increase percentage is known but will not be made public before 28 June.

“It is our practice to provide an estimated budget to elected members, which we did as at last Friday,” Gardner replied.

“This is no different to previous years. The resolutions passed at that meeting provided direction to staff, which we are working with. The final budget proposal will be made available on June 28 at the council meeting. The final draft of the annual plan should be available as part of the agenda a couple of days prior.”

Gardner said SWDC is conscious cost of living expenses have gone up for most in the community.

“So we’d like to remind ratepayers that should they have any difficulty with paying their rates at any time, then please call council to speak with our rates team.” – NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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