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Instead, councillors sought to cap the rates increase to what was indicated in the 2021-31 long-term plan - 18%.
Nevertheless, any increase will follow this year’s 48.5% rates rise.
Cr Michael Deaker said a 20% increase at this time would be "particularly merciless".
"If I was a general ratepayer, which I am, I would be spitting sparks," Cr Deaker said.
"I’m suggesting that before we make any decision about lifting that 18% - that God knows is high enough - we have a very sharp look at the proposed expenditure and we have another sharp look at the word ‘no’."
Cr Gary Kelliher said there needed to be an upper limit on a proposed rates increase otherwise councillors would be saying ratepayers were a "bottomless pit".
"I for one am not prepared to have an ever-increasing upper limit on these increases year by year," Cr Kelliher said.
The council is in the first year of a long-term plan that was heralded as pivotal in the council’s history when it was approved in June.
But the rates rise has not been popular with some, and several councillors pushed back at a staff report which the council’s finance committee was asked to consider last week.
Staff had finished a review of year 2 in the long-term plan, the report said.
The review process included an aim to keep a check on the pressure to do more at the council, and rein in spending to within or at least close to the planned 18% total rates increase, the report said.
Staff spoke to councillors about the direction the council was taking at workshops in October, it said.
Among the changes signalled in the report was about $500,000 in targeted rates for a restructure and associated increase in staffing for Civil Defence Emergency Management, which the council runs.
A $500,000 increase in general rates was deemed necessary as work picked up across the range of the organisation’s work, which also included the addition of a few new staff.
Cr Hilary Calvert initiated the push for the forecast 18% rise to function as a maximum increase.
She noted that auditors of the council’s annual report for 2020-21 said the council had spent millions more than the amount in the budget for each of the last five years.