Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Rates rise dampened for Hurunui

Hurunui District Council says a rates rise has been dampened thanks to the close scrutiny of councillors.

At its May meeting this week, the majority of councillors voted in favour of an average rates rise by 10.98% from 1 July 2024 – a reduction from the proposed 12.37% in the draft Long Term Plan (LTP) 2024-34.

Year Two’s rates rise will be 14.49%, while Year Three will be 4.99%.

The average increase of 10.98% does not mean that every ratepayer will receive that increase – it will depend on the location of the property and the services that property is connected to, the Council said in a statement.

Indicative rates for 125 sample properties were tabled as part of the background information for Council.

More than 150 submissions were received from Hurunui’s residents and ratepayers during the LTP public consultation process which took place from 27 March to 29 April.

The majority of submissions were in response to the three main issues outlined in the draft LTP; the level of investment in roading, the development of the Queen Mary south site in Hanmer Springs, and the level of rates for stormwater activities.

Councillors considered the submissions over two days of deliberations during May after a day of hearings, and collectively found ways to save ratepayers some money.

South Ward Councillor, Robbie Bruerton said the reduction in rates was a positive message to people in the district that councillors did take on board and listen to their communities.

“It does have an effect, saving 1.11% over the next three years,” said Cr Bruerton.

He noted that during the consultation process, it was not so much the figure of the proposed rate that people were concerned about, but rather how can the money best be used.

“People will appreciate that we’ve trimmed again,” he said.

There will still be a focus on roads and stormwater, although with a slight reduction of spend, and the plan is still to develop the Queen Mary south site in Hanmer Springs which Council has recently purchased, the Council said in a statement.

The draft Budget did allow for a peak to the Council debt of $140 million in the 2030/31 year. A slight change to the capital programme from the draft Budget means the peak of the debt is now $139 million, Council said.

Key areas of change from the draft Budget are:

  • The has been a reduction to the proposed increase to staff numbers;
  • Consultant costs for three waters has been reduced;
  • An increase to the rate to fund the foreshore protection at Amberley Beach, which was proposed by the Residents and Ratepayers Association;
  • Reduction to the budget for the dog park for the South Ward and leaving it open as to the location.

Mayor, Marie Black said throughout the LTP process, it was a case of finding the balance between listening to the valuable community feedback, and still upholding key services.

She commended the councillors for the in-depth discussion around the table at Tuesday’s meeting about the Queen Mary south site, as it continues to highlight the need for Council to be very particular in its approach taken with future plans.

“This is given both the financial impact and the financial opportunities this site has for the district.”

Mayor Black said each year the Budget will be reviewed, and councillors will pivot and adjust as is needed, but the main goal was to ensure discipline to stick to the budgets in front of them.

“I think it will be quite a task, but one we are committed to doing,” she said.

The Long Term Plan will be adopted on 25 June 2024, with the new rates to come into effect on 1 July.

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