No formal consultation on rates rise

Maria De Cort
Maria De Cort
Central Otago ratepayers are about to get more information on their rates increase for the next financial year, but it will be through ''conversations'', not formal consultation.

Councillors yesterday approved a communications plan for the average 5.6% rates increase already approved for 2019-20, noting the ''real rate'' of increase was only 4.1%, being the gross rate minus the district's growth rate.

Councillors agreed last month no formal public consultation for the 2019-20 annual plan and rates increase was needed, because there were no significant differences from the second year of the 2018-28 long-term plan (LTP).

There will therefore be no hearings for this year's annual plan, but people are welcome to contact council for ''conversations'' about their views.

This was consistent with the requirement under the Local Government Act 2002, and with advice from Audit New Zealand and an independent contractor, council communications co-ordinator Maria De Cort said.

Instead of formal consultation, council would do a ''communications and engagement campaign'' about the achievements of the first year of the LTP, and what was coming up in the second.

Because the lack of formal consultation was ''a new thing'' for ratepayers and a ''break from tradition'' for council, the campaign would reiterate the reasons for the change, Ms De Cort said.

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