8.6% rates rise flagged

Maniototo ratepayers are facing a possible 8.6% increase in the ward component of their rates bill, but community board members are blaming central Government.

At a meeting on Thursday, the board discussed meeting drinking water standards and getting assessments for council buildings deemed potentially earthquake-prone, noting they were two expensive obligations imposed by central Government.

"No-one is grizzling about drinking water standards here, so bringing higher standards in pretty much destroys small communities ... The cost of water per household will be prohibitive to people moving here," board chairman Barry Becker said.

"They [central Government] have [imposed] water standards that will probably cost Ranfurly $900,000, Naseby even more, and Patearoa $300,000.

"If there comes a time when we keep getting hammered by central Government but the community says they're good with what they've got, then there may come a time when we fight back."

Assessing potentially earthquake-prone buildings was expected to cost $32,000, accounting for 2% of the rates rise, but the increase did not include any budget for repairing or strengthening the buildings should they fail structurally to meet the threshold of 33% of the building code, the board heard.

However, the community board had no legal requirement to fix such buildings unless it wanted to carry out work on one which would require a building consent.

Central Otago District Council property and facilities manager Mike Kerr said there were eight council-owned buildings in the Maniototo ward flagged as potentially earthquake-prone when the council did a "desktop survey" last year. They are the Centennial Milk Bar, the Naseby General Store and hall, the Maniototo Sports Stadium and the Ranfurly, Patearoa, Waipiata and Wedderburn halls.

The board had done "the responsible thing" in deciding to spend money on engineering reports, he said.

However, he also said that depending on what came out of the Royal Commission of Inquiry in Christchurch, the 33% threshold might rise and the reports might need to be revisited.

Council corporate services manager Susan Finlay said the 8.6% rise had been whittled down from a "reasonably scary" figure by trimming fat.

General inflation was also "driving the rates up", she said.

Rises because of inflation had been calculated at 4%, but the cost of electricity had risen 7% and insurance by 25%, due to the Christchurch earthquakes.

The board would take out a loan to cover the upgrade of the Naseby water supply but the repayments, to be made over 25 years, would also affect rates.

The proposed rates increase will be forwarded to the council to be included in the long-term plan. Once the council considers the district component of rates, the increase for Maniototo residents could change.

The board decided to hold the fees and charges for the use of council facilities at this year's level for the next three years and then increase some by $5.

sarah.marquet@odt.co.nz

 

 

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