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Southland residents will now have their say on proposed rates increases.
At a meeting yesterday, Environment Southland councillors approved its draft long-term plan which includes two options for rates to cover its debt.
The council’s preferred option, a 20% increase would be followed up by a 5% increase in the next three years and a 4% increase after that.
The second option was for a 16% average increase with the same subsequent increase as option one.
Councillors acknowledged it was a considerable rise.
Cr Peter McDonald said both options were a step up but he encouraged residents to look at other regional councils in the South Island and make a comparison.
Cr Eric Roy agreed and said the decision was not made lightly.
"I don’t know how many hours we spent in workshops ... well over 100 hours with the best advice we could get."
Referring to those workshops, Cr Lyndal Ludlow said there had been robust debate about the increases and councillors were not always in agreement.
"But ultimately, in the bigger picture, we have actually come to a point where we all are willing to back the place we are in now."
Cr Ludlow encouraged residents to submit feedback throughout the consultation period.
"The process is a bit daunting but you don’t need to write a novel for us."
Consultation closes on June 4.