Eas­ing up on belt tight­en­ing

End of spend means lower rates rise

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By STEVE ED­WARDS

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.

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