Rates affordability a council priority

The Central Otago District Council's rates take will increase by 2.8% for the coming year, with swimming pools in the district soaking up 5% of the rates.

The council plans to collect $21,027,063 in rates for the 2011-12 year, an increase of $577,553 on the previous year's figures.

The council approved its draft annual plan yesterday and council corporate services manager Susan Finlay said estimates had been trimmed back as far as possible.

Rates vary from ward to ward within the district and Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper said several capital works projects had been postponed as rates affordability was a key priority for the council.

Cr Neil Gillespie said the recent three-yearly revaluation of the district would also affect ratepayers.

"The change in rating valuations will have an impact, so some of the movement will not just be because of rates increases or decreases, it will be affected by the change in valuations, " Cr Gillespie said.

A substantial increase in insurance premiums in the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes has been factored into the annual plan. Depreciation and inflation have also been a major contributor to the rates increase, Mrs Finlay said.

Expenditure on swimming pools makes up 5% of the total rates take. Roads, streets and bridges account for 19%, parks reserves and facilities 11%, GST 13%, water supplies 13%, drainage 11%, libraries 4% and visitor information centres 3%.

The council operates several swimming pools throughout the district. Because of the capital costs of bringing the Clyde Pool up to standard, the council has decided not to re-open it. A public meeting will be held in the town next week to canvass the views of the community.

The Roxburgh Community Board has also decided the cost of a new pool to replace the existing one is prohibitive, so has removed the costs from the annual plan. It is also seeking submissions from the public on this matter.

Rates money of $1.2 million will be spent on the district's pools in the coming year, with about $592,000 expected in income.

The new fees and charges for the coming year include an increase of 20% on the cost of burials in Alexandra and Cromwell cemeteries. Burials will cost $700 at Alexandra, up from $580, and $655 at Cromwell, compared with $540 this financial year.

Hire fees for most council halls, buildings and sportsgrounds will remain the same as last year, as will library charges and admission to council-run swimming pools.

The draft annual plan is open for public comment from April 6, with the closing date for submissions a month later.

The council will consider the submissions at its meeting on June 8.

- lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz 



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