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Masterton rates set to climb 6.9pc


Masterton ratepayers will be hit with a 6.9 per cent rates increase this year, the district council has signalled.

This was confirmed in an agenda recommending the council does not consult on this year’s Annual Plan.

The Masterton Ratepayers’ and Residents Association has slammed the move and one councillor has already publicly stated he would be voting in favour of consultation.

But Masterton District Council staff say there are “no viable options” to reduce the rates increase.

The council consulted on its Long Term Plan last year.

Its consultation document signalled a 5.7 per cent rates increase for the 2022-23 financial year, and a 5.6 per cent increase was signed-off in the Long-Term Plan.

On his Masterton Matters Facebook page, councillor Gary Caffell signalled he would be voting in favour of consulting with residents on the Annual Plan because the rates increase

was larger than what was consulted on in last year’s Long Term Plan.

“I well remember back in 2019 the howls of protest when I was one of many councillors who voted against consultation then.

“The main criticism was that, no matter what, the ratepayers deserved the right to have their say through the formal consultation process.

“I recall making a public apology that I got it wrong and would not do so again.”

Masterton Ratepayers’ and Residents Association president David Farlow said the council needed to “put its own financial house in order” before it demanded more money from ratepayers.

“This is the usual arrogance and lack of accountability from the council whose sole role seems to be to rubber-stamp the officials’ self-serving recommendations,” Farlow said.

“Of course there should be public consultation.

“What sorts of clowns think a 6.9 per cent rates increase is acceptable?”

Council staff said there was no legal requirement to consult on the 2022/23 Annual Plan, given “no significant or material differences had been identified” compared with Year 2 of the Long Term Plan.

The agenda item stated council staff had worked hard to minimise the impact on the community, and proposed a budget with a rate increase of 1.3 per cent more than the 5.6 per cent increase that was forecast.

“The projected rates increase for 2022-23 is 6.9 per cent.”

A key driver for the rates increase was inflation and associated challenges with supply and demand on the council’s operational budget.

In an explanation on why a formal consultation was not recommended, the council agenda stated there was “limited ability to influence the drivers of the rates increase” and that “no viable options to the proposed programme have been identified”.

“Consulting the community regarding a proposed rates increase without offering any viable alternatives for the community to consider would be meaningless consultation and may result in reduced trust in the council, legal, and reputational risk,” the agenda item said.

Rather than consult on the Annual Plan, council staff have recommended community engagement be done.

This is the same approach Carterton District Councillors agreed on at a recent meeting.

The proposed rates increase for Carterton ratepayers was not made public at that time.

Masterton councillors are set to meet today to make a decision on Annual Plan consultation.

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