Sunday, July 14, 2024

Hawke’s Bay council votes on rates rise

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has cut its average proposed rate increase from 19.6% to 16% for 2024-25, in response to community concerns about rates affordability.

The Regional Council consulted widely on its draft Three-Year Plan (2024-2027), holding 12 drop-in sessions, receiving 822 submissions, pages of social media feedback and hearing from 60 individuals or groups over two days of public hearings.

Over two days, the Council deliberated on this feedback, as well as staff analysis and options to address issues raised by the community during consultation, it said in a statement.

Regional Council Chair, Hinewai Ormsby (pictured) says councillors looked hard at options to reduce the impact of the proposed rates rises.

Changes agreed to mean the Council will cut its proposed average rates increase from 19.6% to 16% in Year 1. In Year 2, rates will rise from 18.1% to 18.3%, and in Year 3, rates will drop from 9% to 8.5%. Over the three years, the Council’s rate-take will be $5 million less, the Council Chair confirmed.

“We have dropped the rates increases through further internal savings, including keeping 20 permanent roles vacant for three years, subject to the outcome of efficiency reviews,” she said.

“We will seek a special dividend from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) of $2.85 million to maintain funding for Hawke’s Bay Tourism in Year 1, support retaining biodiversity and biosecurity efforts, and offset rates remissions. The remissions would otherwise have fallen onto the General Rate and increased rates for everybody.

“We understood that the proposed rates increase created a significant affordability issue for some ratepayers. So we have pulled all the levers available to us to make the changes we heard communities wanted, as best we could. We will refine our remissions policies to help the most severely affected ratepayers.

“We are looking to provide remissions to those most-affected by changes to Public Transport rates and those suffering hardship.”

The Council has also directed the Chief Executive to undertake an efficiency review of Council’s business, ahead of the next Annual Plan, ready for Year 2 (2025-26), said Chair Ormsby.

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