Zero rate increase declared as higher take expected from development

Waitaki District Council.
Waitaki District Council. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Waitaki district ratepayers will not face a rates rise this financial year, despite a 0.3% rise in the amount of rates to be collected by the Waitaki District Council.

Councillors adopted the council’s 2020-21 annual plan at a full council meeting yesterday, and also passed a seldom-used recommendation to note that the council’s budget for the coming financial year would not be balanced, due to the council being forced to use cash reserves to fund operating expenditure.

It was also noted that the rates collection for 2020-21 would be $32.252 million, up from $32.155 million, which "represented anticipated growth in rates income from development and that a zero rate increase had been achieved", a report to councillors by council policy and strategy manager Mike Searle said.

Several big-ticket works were listed as "project highlights" in the annual plan document, including $2.2 million for continued work to replace decking at Oamaru Harbour; $1.1 million for the renewal of Oamaru and Maheno’s water main infrastructure; $500,000 for upgrades to footpaths in Weston; $392,000 to upgrade council-owned housing units; $200,000 to remedy exposed seaside landfill sites at Kakanui; and $75,000 for free Wi-Fi access points around Waitaki.

Council chief financial officer Paul Hope said the annual plan was "quite different to what we thought we would be adopting in January and February of this year", and the council would not be forced to take on additional debt to boost its coffers.

It was also noted that a letter accompanying rates assessments due on May 25 that outlined how the council planned to ease expectations on ratepayers contained an error, which Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said would soon be addressed.

"The letter has gone out to people saying penalties will come at the end of June [for the May 25 assessment] ... people that are paying by the 27th of August will be fine. It’s a bit of an unintended consequence."

He said a letter would be sent to ratepayers to inform them any penalty arrears on rates could be paid by the later August date.

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