Rates rise on the way for Waikato

Cambridge Edition - - CONVERSATIONS - STAFF REPORTERS

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.

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