Cantabrians could face 24.5% rates rise

Photo: Supplied / ECan
Photo: Supplied / ECan
Cantabrians will be asked to consider a 24.5 percent rates increase next year by its regional council, which is putting it down to government and community expectations.

It is among two options in its 2021-2031 draft long-term plan consultation document released this week.

The council, also known as Environment Canterbury (ECan), said the average total rates each property would pay under Option 1 next financial year was $591.10 - compared to $455.04 in the current 2020/21 year ($136.06 increase).

This is ECan's preferred option for consultation.

Jenny Hughey Photo: Supplied / ECan
Jenny Hughey Photo: Supplied / ECan
ECan said the 24.5 percent figure is how much money it receives from rates would increase by in 2021/22.

It is not the percentage that each ratepayer's bill would go up by, because that depends on the location and value of the property.

Among the reasons for recommending Option 1 was down to delivering the government's Essential Freshwater package, reducing emissions via public transport, Covid-19 economic recovery, flood protection and climate change.

Option 1 would require about $246.5 million of activity in 2021/22, which is $46m more than the current 2020/21 expenditure.

ECan said it did not expect ratepayers to pay for all the work that was included in that option.

It proposes to use a combination of funding sources.

For example in 2021/22, it proposes to use $43.6m from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency grants for public transport, and $25.3m in central government support for the wilding pines and river engineering/flood control works in Jobs for Nature and Covid-19 recovery projects.

It is also proposing to use $40m in user-pays charges and other revenue from things such as consent applications, swing moorings, bus fares and other activity.

This would leave $143m to be paid for by the ratepayers of the region for Option 2.

"People's ability to pay has been at the forefront of council's discussions, and some of our proposed investment is to meet existing commitments, or to attract funding from other sources, enabling us to deliver more, including jobs that support Covid recovery," ECan chair Jenny Hughey said.

Option 2

In Option 2, which is not ECan's preferred option for consultation, it is proposing an 18 percent rates increase.

The average total rates each property would pay in 2021/22 would be $565.59, compared with the current $455.04 ($110.55 increase).

ECan said Option 2 was a balance of increased demand for action, enabling Covid-19 recovery projects while focusing on working within statutory obligations.

It said there were some new areas of expenditure that must be included, such as public transport service improvements already committed to, the government's Essential Freshwater and biodiversity packages, and Covid-19 recovery projects.

Option 2 will see $240.2m of activity in 2021/22, an increase of $40 million compared with the current year.

ECan said the option was proposed to be funded through $41.9 million in Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency grants for public transport and $25.3 million in central government support for the wilding pines and river engineering/flood control works in Jobs for Nature and Covid-19 recovery projects.

It is also set to be funded through $41.7 million in user-pays charges and other revenue from things such as consent applications, swing moorings, bus fares and other activity.

This would leave $135 million to be paid for by the ratepayers for Option 2.

"We know this is not an insignificant amount of money, but there is also a price to pay if we don't continue to take action," Hughey said.

"These are big decisions and council is looking for feedback from the community. It is important we hear your views. We urge the community to be informed, to consider what is important, and to tell council what you think."

The draft long-term plan will be presented to councillors on Thursday.

Public consultation will run from March 8 to April 11.

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