Rates big item on agenda

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Future rates to be paid by Waitaki district property owners will be a big talking point at Wednesday’s Waitaki District Council meeting.

Rates are a major part of council’s draft 2015-25 Long-term Plan, which is set to go out for public consultation in March.

At its meeting on December 10, council agreed on an initial rates increase of 2.9% for 2015-16, which would have seen a total of $29.944 million collected.

In the 2014-15 year, the council collected $29.107 million in rates.

Since December 10, that figure has increased to 3.0% and now stands at $29.982 million after a roading reconciliation to the New Zealand Transport Agency long-term plan budget, totalling $37,830, was added.

Several other items were also considered that would have increased rates further, but they were not agreed for inclusion in the 2015-25 long-term plan.

As part of its long-term plan, council also considered changes to operating budgets and proposals during workshops and council meetings throughout November and on December 10.

It also agreed to a new significance and engagement policy and started developing financial and infrastructure strategies.

Based on those, rates requirements have been projected for the 2015-25 long-term plan and will be discussed at Wednesday’s meeting.

According to projected rates requirements for the next 20 years, rates will rise an estimated 2.6%, on average, between 2015-16 and 2024-25.

It is projected that in 2016-17, $30.296 million will be collected.

While two options will be considered at the meeting, the preferred option is that the council notes the process to date and decisions already made in regards to the long-term plan and confirms the proposed rates increase for consultation with the community.

Public consultation on the draft 2015-25 Long-term Plan is to start on March 18, with hearings to take place on May 11, 13 and 18.

Decision-making is scheduled for May 27, with the plan expected to be adopted on June 24.

By Daniel Birchfield