Council goes for 6.5% rates rise

The Dunedin City Council is to consult the public on a proposed rates rise of 6.5%.

After a day and a-half of discussions among councillors about budgets, there was essentially no shift in the amount of rating revenue the council considered it would need to cover the 2023-24 programme of work, after council staff had indicated a 6.5% increase.

The council's draft annual plan will go out for public feedback, ahead of hearings and deliberations.

It is substantially similar to what had been signalled in the 2021-31 long-term plan, although staff said it had been a challenging budget process, because of pressures from inflation, interest costs and accounting for depreciation.

Jules Radich. Photo: ODT files
Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich. Photo: ODT files
A proposed rates increase of 6.5% would be down on the 7% that was indicated in the long-term plan, but the council said it was not able to deliver a balanced budget, because of significant increases in depreciation and interest.

The draft budget provided a net deficit of about $38.5 million.

There would be "no obvious decreases to levels of service" for the next financial year.

Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich said keeping the proposed rates increase below the earlier 7% forecast was an impressive effort by staff in challenging times.

“Our focus is on continuing to deliver for our community, and this budget represents more of that," Mr Radich said.

“We’re doing what we said we would – delivering new pipes and other improvements for our community – and maintaining what we already have.

“The focus will soon switch to the three-yearly update of the 10-year plan, and we will have to grapple with some significant challenges, but it’s ‘steady as she goes’ for now.”

Rates cover activities that range from roading and water infrastructure to waste management and provision of libraries, pools and parks.

The impact of the overall rates increase will vary from property to property after recent revaluations.

Rates are based on property values and the most recent assessment by Quotable Value will result in some property owners paying more than the proposed 6.5% rates increase and others less.

Revaluations affect how the total rates burden is shared among ratepayers, but have no direct impact on total rating revenue for the council.

During discussion about budgets yesterday, Cr Andrew Whiley encouraged people who did not agree with the council's spending priorities to tell the council where it was going wrong.

He also asked people to speak up if they believed the council was on the right track.

Engagement with the community is to include creation of digital content and production of short videos about key decisions and progress on projects.

Hearings are due to begin on May 1 and the council is to start deliberations on May 22.

The annual plan has to be approved and signed off by the end of June.