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The council’s draft long-term plan for 2021-31, which proposes a total rates rise of 9.9% in year one, opened for submissions this week.
The consultation period closes on July 8, and the council is aiming to adopt the plan by August 31 — two months after the statutory deadline.
The main impact of missing the June 30 deadline is on council’s ability to rate;
it can only do so if it has a long-term plan in place. The 2018-28 plan expires on June 30.
Two councils missed the 2018 deadline — their delays described as "unacceptable" by the auditor-general — and three did not meet the 2015 timeframe.
The Waimate District Council has put its late adoption of the plan down to "the significant flooding event experienced in January, impacts and delays through Covid-19 and the requirement to divert a significant level of resources to meet tight timeframes ... on the Government’s Three Waters reform programme".
Three rates increases are proposed in the long-term plan, but the council’s preferred option is a total rates increase of 9.9% next year, increases of 7% in the following two years, and an average rates rise of 2.5% a year for the following nine years.
Keeping a rates rise in check last year due to Covid-19 provided some relief for ratepayers, but the council now needed to meet the $377,700 shortfall.
The council was anticipating its operating expenses to increase from $20.255million in 2021-22 to $23.425million in 2030-31, and the new kerbside rubbish and recycling service, rural water scheme upgrades, and a declining return on the council’s investment in Alpine Energy Ltd were also driving the increase.
"Keeping rates manageable is always at the forefront of council’s operations, however, increased levels of service, infrastructure renewals and contributing factors outside of our control all cost money. Therefore we need residents to help us decide how we will best meet these commitments," Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley said.
"It is critical that we continue sustainably growing our district, and we realise council has a major role in ensuring the quality of life for all residents."
The Waimate long-term plan has a focus on investment and maintenance of core infrastructure, and outlines the impact climate change, Covid-19, Three Waters reform and proposed changes to the Resource Management Act could have on the council’s services.
"We encourage all ratepayers to read the consultation document, take a look at what we’re proposing and let us know their views through the submission process," Mr Rowley said.
Mr Rowley, councillors and council staff will be hosting "community chat" consultation sessions throughout the district.