Higher rates subject of much debate

Andrew Noone
Andrew Noone
Whether to further increase work or halt rates increases was the dividing issue between Otago regional councillors yesterday.

At a council meeting it formally adopted its annual plan for the next financial year.

Its revenue will increase to $67.928 million from $64.221 million. There will be a combined rates increase of 13.8%, which includes a general rates increase of 26.9%.

This will mean the average increase in the general rate bill will be $24.65 in Dunedin city, $23.85 in Queenstown Lakes, $11.88 in Central Otago, $10.43 in Clutha and $13.63 in Waitaki.

The extra spending is spread throughout council works but the largest leap is in biodiversity spending, which is rising from $1.801 million last year to $3.761 million.

Councillors were split on whether to be wary of further rates increases or increase spending in the region.

Cr Doug Brown said the council ''need to be mindful'' of the high increases.

For some people they represented large dollar amounts, he said.

Cr Andrew Noone said there was starting to be pushback from the community against rates.

Cr Bryan Scott said the council identified some ''challenging and meaty issues'' such as water, biodiversity and climate change.

''I'm stating the obvious, but it's time to make a dent in some of these issues.''

Cr Michael Laws said the council still had the lowest regional rates per capita in New Zealand ''by a long way''.

''The reason is because we haven't done much over the last decade and have had increasing expectations placed on us.

''It's not bold enough.

''We could still be doing a lot more.''

jono.edwards@odt.co.nz

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