2.65% rate rise confirmed; lowest in Otago

With hardly a murmur, the Waitaki District Council yesterday confirmed a 2.65% rise in its total rates collection for the new financial year, which starts today.

It is the lowest increase of any district or city council in Otago - well below Queenstown Lakes which has approved a 7.7% rise.

That resulted in councillors approving the 2010-11 draft annual plan with no discussion, only queries about the wording of some of about 30 resolutions needed to formally put next year's rates in place.

The council's draft annual plan projected a 5.9% rates increase, but councillors pruned that back and then made some changes, after considering public submissions.

Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton said the final rates increase recognised the need to keep some activities and projects alive.

"Stagnation is not an option," he said.

Given that the average rates rise for the five Otago local authorities was about 5%, the Waitaki council could be pleased with achieving the lowest increase, Mr Familton said.

However, the impact of increases will vary substantially across the district, following new property valuations.

Many residential ratepayers' rates bills will drop, but some farmers, particularly those with irrigation, face increases which may be as high as 30%.

That redistribution of the rates burden has prompted Federated Farmers North Otago to call on the council to overhaul its rates system to reduce the volatile effects in revaluations.


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