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A decision to redistribute $2million of the Southland District Council’s strategic asset reserve will mean a more even rates increase for the region’s ratepayers.
The council’s long-term plan document proposed a rates rise to cover the costs of rebuilding sealed roads and replacing 161 old wooden bridges set to reach the end of their lives in the next 10 years.
The council also faces a raft of increased external costs from the Government’s Three Waters reforms, higher environmental and regulatory requirements, a change in its environmental monitoring role, climate change and inflation.
The proposed increase had some residents looking at a $480 hike, almost 20%, while others in the region would only face a 4% rise.
Under the adjusted rating which was agreed by councillors yesterday, the $480 increase is reduced to $365.
The solution was delivered by council chief financial officer Anne Robson at yesterday’s long-term plan deliberation council meeting.
Originally, $2million of the reserve was to be allocated completely to the roading rate, she said.
However, some of that $2million would be redistributed, $1million being taken from the roading rate and put into the sewerage rate, she said.
This meant residents in the rural sector would have an increase in their rates as they topped up the roading rate.
Cr Douglas said the change would mean some farmers’ proposed rates would go up by 50%.
"And they haven’t had a chance to comment on that."
Mayor Gary Tong said the allocation of the $2million, which was originally created by the sale of council-owned South Roads, had been the topic of discussion for more than a decade.
He said the preferred rates rise option was 10.15% and some properties had not got close to that.
"This is a way of helping those who are in a bind, and who will probably be in a bind for some time.
"It will give peace of mind to them."
Ms Robson said that once the money was spent, it was gone.