Opinion: Ratepayers will need to dig deep

Ratepayers should understandably be outraged and worried by the latest financial blow they are about to be hit with.

Environment Canterbury is proposing to increase its rates which you pay as part of your rates bill to the city council.

The proposal is what it says – a proposal – and the public will get its say. But you will still be hit.

The ECan rate is one of those almost hidden costs in the bill you get from the city council every quarter.

But revelations this week ECan proposes to increase its rates by 24.5 or 18 per cent has elevated that almost invisible line in your rates bill to a bold font.

In other words probably for the first time for many, the ECan rate is now being noticed.

The ECan increase, which will be about $250 for a 24.5 per cent increase will come on top of a 5 per cent rates increase from the city council – an increase which is projected to happen annually for a number of years in order to keep the city financial.

The ratepayer is going to get hurt.

ECan says the need and justification for the increase is to cover its part of the Government’s new freshwater regulations.

While ECan will no doubt argue it is just an extra $4 or so a week, it all adds up on top of the price of groceries, power, insurance and other living costs.

Centre/right city councillors James Gough, Sam MacDonald, Catherine Chu, Aaron Keown, Phil Mauger and James Daniels have all criticised the ECan plan.

“[It] will further hit the back pockets of hardworking ratepayers, at a time when the public sector should be looking to drive efficiency,” Gough was quoted by Stuff this week.

MacDonald told Stuff ECan’s elected councillors would need to go back to the drawing board “urgently,” and insisted staff work with them to reduce this increase significantly.

“It sets a terrible precedent for future years,” he said.

It is hard to argue against MacDonald and Gough.

Today, ECan is likely to set the proposal in motion, asking the public for feedback over the rates increase plan as it is required to do.

On the next page, ECan chair Jenny Hughey sets out what it is all about in her regular column.

It is difficult to gauge how many people will make submissions, but this will be the only opportunity ratepayers get to have their say.

I predict the rates increase will go ahead irrespective of the feedback, but it will be 18 per cent, not the 24.5 per cent.

Or ECan could tell the Government it just doesn’t have the money.

  • Send us your views on the proposed ECan rates increase. Keep responses to about 200 words. Email barry@starmedia.kiwi

 

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