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Urban rates bill rises by $7

Rates will increase by about $7 a week for South Wairarapa urban residential ratepayers. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

Urban residential ratepayers in South Wairarapa can expect their rates bills to increase an average of $6-7 a week once the council adopts its Annual Plan at the end of June.

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] made public the rates impact for the 2022/23 year in its Annual Plan engagement document on Thursday.

The council was now seeking feedback on its priorities for the coming year to help inform its Annual Plan, which would not be available for viewing until late June.

SWDC chief executive Harry Wilson said Annual Plan engagement would be held across the district this month with the mayor and councillors, including public drop-in sessions and an online Zoom session.

“We take feedback seriously and will factor in any feedback of material value we get from the engagement during May,” Wilson said.

“The Annual Plan will be available to council in late June for review before being considered for adoption on June 30.

“A draft copy will be available to the public and media at that point.”

A joint statement from Mayor Alex Beijen and Wilson said they were “very much aware” that rates costs impacted South Wairarapa residents.

They said there was support available for low-income households and that there were also flexible repayment options.

“Despite the budget constraints within which we operate, it is crucial we continue to invest in infrastructure so we may continue to have essential services, such as clean water and safe roads,” they said.

The average rates rise of 7.8 per cent would impact rural ratepayers the least; they would pay on average $1.71 more each week [$88.93 extra for the year].

The following figures represent the average financial impact on each ratepayer group:

Commercial ratepayers would face the biggest leap and were set to pay an extra $10.34 a week [$537.93 extra for the year].

Meanwhile, urban residential ratepayers would pay an extra $6-7 a week, depending on what town they lived in.

Featherston urban ratepayers would pay an extra $6.09 a week [$316.71 extra for the year], Greytown urban ratepayers an extra $7.15 a week [$371.85 annual increase], and Martinborough urban ratepayers an extra $7.19 a week [$374.01 annual increase].

The council said about 75 per cent of the urban rates increase could be attributed to water costs.

Some of the drivers for increased water costs include central government regulations, inflation, and market constraints.

“The plan is made up of essential and mandatory work with more requirements yet to come from central government.

“There are no vanity projects,” the council’s engagement document stated.

The council’s proposed expenditure for the 2022/23 year was $26,773,620 – $679k more than budgeted for in Year 2 of the Long Term Plan [LTP].

Rates income to fund this expenditure was less than what was proposed in the LTP, and the council would be taking more income from other funding sources, such as fees and licences.

Of the money the council planned to spend in the 2022/23 year, 26 per cent would go to water, 24 per cent to community facilities and services, 20 per cent to land transport, 12 per cent to reserves, 10 per cent for planning and regulatory services, and eight per cent for governance, leadership, advocacy, and planning.

Annual Plan public engagement would close on May 30, and the council was set to adopt the Annual Plan on June 30.

The rates rise came after an increase of about 29 per cent last year after the council’s Long Term Plan Consultation Document indicated it needed to collect an extra 17.65 per cent in rates for the 2021-22 financial year.

The council apologised for the miscommunication last year. It said the difference resulted from the council borrowing $1.5 million the year before to give ratepayers a rates holiday amid covid-19 while still continuing with its proposed programme of works.

To help ratepayers gauge what their rates were likely to be for the next year, the council created a rates estimator, available at swdc.govt.nz/services/rates/rates-estimator/ — NZLDR

  • Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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