Easing up on belt tightening
End of spend means lower rates rise
A Matamata-Piako District councillor hopes the public does not perceive a lower than normal proposed rate rise as a vote-winner rather than frugal financial management.
Neil Goodger said an average general rate rise of just under 2.5 per cent, compared to 5 to 6 per cent in recent years, could be seen as the ‘‘council being generous’’ in election year.
However, council chief executive officer Don McLeod said the district had been through a period of ‘‘ capital intensive development’’, which brought with it associated rate rises, but which was now over.
The council’s corporate and operations committee approved the draft annual plan at its recent monthly meeting.
The public can have a say from April 23 to May 24, with a council hearing of submissions set down for June 5 and 6.
The confirmed budget will be adopted on June 26.
The committee meeting heard that the proposed rate rise had been pruned from more than six per cent in the long-term plan to just over 3 per cent, then 2.7 per cent.
Group manager business services Manaia Te Wiata said the council is concerned at the difficult economic conditions the community is experiencing.
Updated savings include a joint waste management contract and shared library service with Hauraki district.
Areas still under discussion include upgrades in Matamata at the memorial centre and sports centre.
The future of community boards in the district, and associated affect on council costs, has yet to be determined by the Local Government Commission. The draft budget includes $40,000 for an investigation into a proposed extension of the Hauraki Rail Trail from Te Aroha to Matamata.
While just under 2.5 per cent will be the average proposed gen- eral rate increase, Mr Te Wiata said impacts will vary.
Properties across the district were revalued last year for rating purposes, with the total value of dairy farms dropping by almost six per cent, while the residential sector reduced by just over three per cent and the commercial sector increased by 7.72 per cent.
‘‘The change in valuations for properties within sectors also varied,’’ said a staff report tabled at the meeting.
‘‘These variations will distort the rates increases that individual ratepayers experience.’’
An urban home valued at $500,000 would have a 1.16 per cent rate rise, while rates for a $4 million dairy farm would drop by 0.36 per cent.
The staff report said sewer pan rates will cause further variations for properties, including commercial premises and schools.
A number of ratepayers have installed water meters, due to be read next month, with the council’s draft budget figures based on assessment of ‘‘ household equivalents’’ in pan numbers and water use.
An urban cafe valued at $500,000, with two toilet pans, faces a rate rise of more than 12 per cent, while a $ 1.5 million motel with 16 pans is facing an increase of nearly four per cent. A town school with 20 pans has a rate rise of almost 18 per cent if the draft plan is adopted.