Council to consider ways of trimming 6% rates rise

The Waitaki District Council is about to start the process of setting its rates, considering how to cut back a predicted 6% rates increase for the next financial year.

In doing so, the councillors face several factors which will affect the 6% increase for 2010-11 it predicted when it drew up its 10-year, long-term council community plan last year.

The first round is two council workshops tomorrow and Wednesday next week at which councillors will go through draft budgets.

The Waihemo and Ahuriri Community Boards have already started the process.

Along with other meetings, the aim is to have a draft annual plan for the council to formally adopt on March 10 so it can go out for public submissions.

Public meetings around the district in April would outline the draft plan, submissions would be heard in May and final decisions made at a special council meeting on May 26.

The annual plan, which will set the rates, has to be formally adopted by June 30.

Policy manager Ben Hopkins said several issues that would affect the plan and rates had arisen since the council last year adopted the long-term plan and a projected 6% rates rise for 2010-11.

Inflation was lower than forecast, so cost increases would moderate in some areas, saving about 1%.

The New Zealand Transport Agency had cut the roading subsidy and the council had an extensive rural network.

The council faced either making up the shortfall in subsidies by rates, or lowering the standards of its roading network.

"Because roading is our largest activity and very much a core business, changes in funding will almost certainly have implications for other business units," he said.

The cuts to roading maintenance would be about $340,000 in the coming financial year.

Some parts of the maintenance budget could fall by up to 25%.

Other issues faced by the council included a revaluation of its water assets, which would increase depreciation by up to $500,000, and objections by developers to paying increased development contributions.

Councillors also have to consider local economic conditions and concerns.


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