Councillors Increase Overall Rates Income by 9.9%
The Waimate District Council has opted to borrow additional funds and smooth the rates increase across the term of the 2021-31 Long Term Plan (LTP), agreeing to Council’s preferred option (Option 2) – as outlined in the Consultation Document.
In a unanimous decision at Wednesday’s Council Meeting, Councillors agreed to increase the overall rates income to 9.9% in year one (2021/22), 7.6% in year two (2022/23), 6.8% in year three (2023/24) and 2.5% on average for years 4-10.
In making their decision, Mayor Craig Rowley spoke of Council’s current ability to borrow at low levels and acknowledged the impact of a larger rates increase for ratepayers on a fixed income, such as Option 1.
“Anything above 10% would be unreasonable, therefore in our decision we must take into account the greater good of the district and not just those that have submitted,” Mayor Rowley said.
“Commentary provided by submitters indicated that while some elements of Option 1, being the cheapest in the long term, were favoured, other commentary recognised the benefit of Option 2 with the smoothing over the period of the Long Term Plan.
“Council believes Option 2 is the most appropriate option to manage the impact on rates.”
As part of Option 2, Council will have to borrow additional funds of approximately $1.35 million, resulting in interest costs of around $160,000 over the full 10 years of the LTP.
In other decisions, Councillors were split on their decision to remove the Waimate Event Centre rates remission, with four Councillors favouring the proposal to remove the remission and five opting against. The proposal sought to remove the 25% remission for ratepayers who already contribute to the operating costs of a rural hall via targeted rates, instead charging an equal rate to all ratepayers within the district.
Comments raised by Councillors in support of the proposal suggested all district households have equal access to the Waimate Event Centre, with several referring to the “community good far outweighing the additional cost required”, if the remission was removed.
However, Councillors against the proposal disagreed, pointing out urban ratepayers were not paying for other halls in the district, therefore believed the impact of any additional increase would be ‘unjustified’ and ‘unfair’.
Through the vote, the decision was made to retain the status quo, with a collective nod to reviewing the overall rate mechanisms at a later date – working with rural hall committees, stakeholders and rural ratepayers to potentially create a new funding system in future years.
All decisions will feature in Council’s 2021-31 Long Term Plan, and can be viewed on Council’s website.
The Long Term Plan is expected to be adopted by Council by 31 August 2021.