Rates rise on the way for Waikato
Waikato regional councillors have kept the proposed rate rise at under 3 per cent for the 2017-18 annual plan.
The decision was made following new information from staff on cost increases.
The rate of increase proposed is 2.9 per cent compared to an earlier suggested annual plan figure of 2.6 per cent made public in February. It is due to be formally adopted in June. The 2.9 per cent enables the maintenance of essential services and accommodates new cost pressures, particularly for increased depreciation in flood protection assets as a result of asset revaluation increases, chairman Alan Livingston said.
‘‘Councillors worked hard to keep the overall rate of increase at a reasonable level. We’ve had
‘‘I think the 2.9 per cent rise strikes a good balance between keeping rates down as much as we can while providing important services’’
average rises at 0.3 per cent over the past four years, ranging from plus 1.3 per cent to negative 1.3 per cent.
‘‘But we have had to go over that for next year to maintain current services as best we can in the face of significant new cost pressures.
‘‘I think the 2.9 per cent rise strikes a good balance between keeping rates down as much as we can while providing important services, especially ones focused on keeping the community and the environment safe.’’
The biggest extra item approved was an estimated extra $530,000 for depreciation funding after a recent three-yearly revaluation of council assets. This primarily relates to flood protection in the Waihou and Piako rivers zones. Another item approved was $140,000 for two full time incident response staff to replace temporary staff.
Other significant new items being rated under the 2.9 per cent increase included $200,000 for computer licence fees; $113,000 to cover the cost of hiring a new group recovery manager for Civil Defence and $129,000 in operational depreciation funding
Offsetting increased costs is the utilisation of reserve funding for central zone river management works in Hamilton, given the healthy reserves balance. A report to council noted that $100,000 in already allocated funding would be carried over from this year to next for implementation of the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora Plan Change 1 for the Waikato and Waipa rivers.