1.7% rates rise likely

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A rates increase of 1.7% is being considered by the Waitaki District Council for the next financial year, after council trimmed spending at its meeting on Wednesday.

At the meeting councillors discussed the shape council’s 2015-25 Long Term Plan would take and have come close to settling on a final draft.

Part of that draft included the potential rates rise for the 2015/16 financial year.

On December 10, the council agreed to an initial rates increase of 2.9%, which would see $29.944 million collected across the 2015/16 financial year.

A total of $29.107 million in rates are to be collected in the 2014/15 financial year.

Following December’s meeting, a $37,830 roading reconciliation was added, which saw the proposed increase rise to 3%, or $29.982 million.

Further adjustments on Wednesday have seen that figure drop to $29.595 million, an overall increase of 1.7% for the 2015/16 financial year.

Significant cuts include a $67,000 reduction to Tourism Waitaki funding, a $150,000 cut to the Oamaru sewer rate, a harbour loan reduction of $40,000 and the removal of a proposed Food Act increase totaling $50,000.

Proposed plans to construct a floating day berth at Oamaru Harbour, at a cost of $100,000 have been scrapped, while an agreement between the council and Whitestone Contracting Ltd will see the company pay a minimum dividend of $120,000 annually.

Of that, $20,000 has been added to the community grants budget which will now total $50,000.

The remainder will be used to offset rates.

Additions include $25,000 for kerb and channel work on Wansbeck St, while $100,000 has been allocated to the budget to repair Holmes Wharf.

The proposed $10,000 cost to repair the Phoenix water wheel is to come from a non-rates source.

The council’s long term plan proposes rates increases of 1.8% for the 2016/17 financial year, 1.7% for 2017/18 and 5.2% for 2018/19, when the impact of the Forrester Gallery redevelopment project will start to be felt.

There was an indication from councillors that the 2019/19 increase will be considered further.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said he was “happy” with the likely 1.7% increase.

Decisions made at Wednesday’s meeting are set to be confirmed on March 18, with the public consultation period to open on March 23.

By Daniel Birchfield