Penalty letters out earlier

Otago residents who forgot to pay their Otago Regional Council rates will have to pay a penalty earlier than in the past.

Letters advising ratepayers of the 10% penalty would arrive in people's letterboxes during the next week, council corporate services director Wayne Scott said.

Earlier this year, the council agreed to move the penalty date from January 1 to November 1.

About 88% of ratepayers paid their bill by the new deadline compared with 90% when the penalty date was in January.

Mr Scott said it was hard to directly compare the figures as the council had also implemented a new payment plan allowing people to pay in three instalments. That gave people on low incomes some flexibility and allowed those with large bills to space out their payments, he said.

The council advertised the new deadline widely but there were always some people who overlooked the bill, he said.

"We're quite comfortable. It's a couple of months earlier so it's not surprising."