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Residents ropeable about rates

As the deadline for public submissions approaches, the rate hikes being proposed by South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] are coming under fire.

Rural ratepayers face the biggest rise of 29 per cent, while urban ratepayers have a proposed increase of about 10 per cent.

Consultation on SWDC’s amended rates for next year is open, with submissions closing on Saturday. The council has proposed an overall increase of 15.9 per cent, up from the 3.19 per cent anticipated in SWDC long-term plan projections in 2021.

Masterton District Council proposes to raise rates by an average of 7.9 per cent next year, with Carterton District Council proposing an average uplift of 6.2 per cent.

Last month Stats NZ reported an inflation rate of 6.7 per cent in the 12 months to March 2023. This increase followed 7.2 per cent inflation in the 12 months to December 2022.

SWDC said the proposed change is because the economic environment has shifted significantly, and the district has a ratepayer base of just over 7300.

“The costs of services the council provides have increased dramatically [as it has for households and businesses],” the consultation document said.

The proposed hike would bring in additional revenue of $3,376,671 compared to this year.

As of yesterday, 49 frequently asked questions had been published by SWDC on its website.

One of the council’s biggest ticket items is personnel, with spending increasing by more than $1.2 million between 2020 and 2022.

The total annual spend on personnel for the past three years [ending 30 June] was $4.6 million in 2020, $5.2 million in 2021, and $5.8 million in 2022.

South Wairarapa residents have criticised the proposals, saying, among other things, they lack detail and financial accountability.

One resident who wanted to remain anonymous described the consultation process as “very disappointing”.

“There are no clear reasons for the sizable proposed increase for the rural sector,” they said.

“More financial analysis is needed to understand the true nature of the proposed rate increase.

“It’s astounding that key issues such as the Hinekura and Ngawi roads don’t get a solid mention, nor the costs associated with Wellington Water. Unfortunately, the published consultation paper poses more questions than answers. It’s very light on information for such a significant rate increase.”

Dan Riddiford – a South Wairarapa farmer and one of the district’s biggest ratepayers – questioned the quality of administration offered by the council, especially in relation to roading expenditure.

“My concern is they [SWDC], are justifying rate rises on blowout spending,” he said.

“There is insufficient management by the council of roading contractors. There is a high level of questioning in the South Wairarapa rural community as to the competence of the management of roading issues.”

Riddiford said contractors need to be held accountable before spending is incurred, rather than after money has been spent, and referenced a recent major slip on the road to the south coast, which locals had fixed themselves rather than waiting for the council to do it.

He said it would be cheaper for locals in Tora to fix roads themselves, rather than relying on the council.

He urged people to make a submission on the proposed rate rises, and also sign a petition on the issue, which is circulating in the district.

SWDC interim chief executive Paul Gardner has also encouraged submissions, noting consultation is ongoing and includes drop-in sessions in all three towns and in rural areas.

“We have continued to look at how we engage and listen to our communities and adapted our communication channels to reach as wide an audience as possible,” he said.

“As well as running a series of daytime and evening drop-in sessions, we have gone to where the people are to hear first-hand their concerns. Our staff have stood by our councillors to answer the public’s questions.

“We want this approach to reflect how we intend to listen to our communities moving forward,” he said.

“We’ve been pleased with the level of feedback, and we’ve heard loud and clear their messages.

“Public feedback is very important to councillors for effective decisions on behalf of the community.”

Consultation is open until Saturday at 5pm, with the online form available via swdc.govt.nz. than $1.2 million between 2020 and 2022.

The total annual spend on personnel for the past three years [ending 30 June] was $4.6 million in 2020, $5.2 million in 2021, and $5.8 million in 2022.

South Wairarapa residents have criticised the proposals, saying, among other things, they lack detail and financial accountability.

One resident who wanted to remain anonymous described the consultation process as “very disappointing”.

“There are no clear reasons for the sizable proposed increase for the rural sector,” they said.

“More financial analysis is needed to understand the true nature of the proposed rate increase.

“It’s astounding that key issues such as the Hinekura and Ngawi roads don’t get a solid mention, nor the costs associated with Wellington Water. Unfortunately, the published consultation paper poses more questions than answers. It’s very light on information for such a significant rate increase.”

Dan Riddiford – a South Wairarapa farmer and one of the district’s biggest ratepayers – questioned the quality of administration offered by the council, especially in relation to roading expenditure.

“My concern is they [SWDC], are justifying rate rises on blowout spending,” he said.

“There is insufficient management by the council of roading contractors. There is a high level of questioning in the South Wairarapa rural community as to the competence of the management of roading issues.”

Riddiford said contractors need to be held accountable before spending is incurred, rather than after money has been spent, and referenced a recent major slip on the road to the south coast, which locals had fixed themselves rather than waiting for the council to do it.

He said it would be cheaper for locals in Tora to fix roads themselves, rather than relying on the council.

He urged people to make a submission on the proposed rate rises, and also sign a petition on the issue, which is circulating in the district.

SWDC interim chief executive Paul Gardner has also encouraged submissions, noting consultation is ongoing and includes drop-in sessions in all three towns and in rural areas.

“We have continued to look at how we engage and listen to our communities and adapted our communication channels to reach as wide an audience as possible,” he said.

“As well as running a series of daytime and evening drop-in sessions, we have gone to where the people are to hear first-hand their concerns. Our staff have stood by our councillors to answer the public’s questions.

“We want this approach to reflect how we intend to listen to our communities moving forward,” he said.

“We’ve been pleased with the level of feedback, and we’ve heard loud and clear their messages.

“Public feedback is very important to councillors for effective decisions on behalf of the community.”

Consultation is open until Saturday at 5pm, with the online form available via swdc.govt.nz.

1 COMMENT

  1. And still we have to pay to mow the council land that our rates pay the SWDC to maintain. Time to invoice them for it

Comments are closed.

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