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Central Otago District Council finance manager Jotham Kasibante said it was the gross rates increase of 5.6% minus the district's growth rate, of 1.5%, meaning the "real rate" of increase to ratepayers was only 4.1%.
However, Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan emphasised this was an average, and individual wards across the district might have different rates of increase.
Within this financial year, the council was starting 2019 with a surplus $1.2million greater than anticipated.
For the seven months ending January 31, 2019 council recorded a surplus of $3.2million, against a budgeted surplus of $2.1million.
Although expenses for that period were $26.8million instead of the budgeted $25.3million, income had been higher, and capital expenditure had been lower.
Income was $30million against the budgeted $27.3million.
Variances included government grants and subsidies of $2.8million against a budgeted $1.9million, mainly due to increased NZ Transport Agency funding; user fees and other income of $4.1million against a budgeted $3.4million, mainly due to income from the Cromwell endowment land and Alexandra airport hangar leases; and development contributions of $1.5million and reserve contributions of $318,000, against respective budgets of $1million and zero.
Cromwell's wastewater scheme and roading contributions continued to be the major contributors to that positive variance, Mr Kasibante said.
Councillors noted the overall costs of upcoming capital projects had not changed, but some had been shifted to different financial years from those initially scheduled.