Kaikōura facing 14.5% rates rise

Kaikōura district councillors deliberate over the draft Long Term Plan on Wednesday. Photo: David...
Kaikōura district councillors deliberate over the draft Long Term Plan on Wednesday. Photo: David Hill / North Canterbury News [LDR]
There are calls to fix a ''broken'' funding model, as Kaikōura ratepayers face an average 14.5 per cent rates hike.

The Kaikōura District Council adopted its draft 2024/34 Long Term Plan on Wednesday proposing a 14.5 per cent rates rise this year, as it faces rising compliance costs.

The Future for Local Government report released last year found central Government collected 93 per cent of tax in New Zealand, leaving councils with just 7 percent between them.

Speaking at Wednesday's council meeting, Kaikōura District Council corporate services senior manager Peter Kearney said the funding model available to councils ''is broken and fundamentally unsustainable''.

''We need to advocate with Government for change, but it is not going to be quick fix, so we are stuck with what we have.''

Other Canterbury councils are proposing high average rate rises, including Hurunui with 12.37 per cent, Waimakariri 8.9 per cent, Christchurch 13.24 per cent and Environment Canterbury 24.2 per cent.

Kaikōura's Long Term Plan is now out for consultation until April 30, with hearings scheduled in May.

The proposed 14.5 per cent rates rise is a big jump on last years 4.9 per cent rise, which was the lowest in Canterbury.

Kearney said the council was still facing uncertainty with Government legislation and the ongoing impacts of high inflation and interest rates as it prepared the Long Term Plan.

''The costs of compliance have been substantial, and then you huge increases in auditing costs and insurance costs.

''Everyone has been feeling the strain of keeping rates affordable, while still maintaining services. We are not alone.

''Some of the councils without such high rate rises have had to sell assets or cut services.''

Kearney said the council is consulting on footpath maintenance, funding for the Picton to Kaikōura Whale Trail, rural rating and rural recycling.

The council wants to accelerate its footpaths renewal programme by boosting funding from $100,000 to $250,000 a year over the next six years.

The Whale Trail cycle and walking trail, which runs from Picton to Kaikōura, is expected to bring significant economic benefits to the Marlborough and Kaikōura districts.

The council is proposing to contribute $200,000 over the next four years towards the $32 million project.

Feedback is also sought on how rural and semi-rural rates are set, and how to fund the district's rural recycling programme.

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.