Councillors look to be settling on a 5.5pc rate rise

EDITORIAL

Debate over council priorities for the draft 2018-2028 Long-Term Plan move from private workshops into the public arena at a full council meeting tomorrow, where councillors will also decide their preferred wastewater treatment option to go out for consultation.

The two are linked, as the wastewater treatment options before the council both have big costs attached that are a significant driver of the need for prioritisation elsewhere. It is possible some councillors will try to put a cheaper option back on the table.

The three councillors on the Wastewater Management Committee all chose Option 3, seeing it as a transitional stage towards the Option 5 that the three iwi representatives preferred. Option 3 has an estimated average annual cost of $324 per reticulated household. Option 5 has an average annual cost of $383 per household.

The average annual rates for a residential property connected to the city’s wastewater reticulation system, with one connection only, is $2707. Once implemented, option 3 entails a 12 percent rise in rates for the average affected ratepayer; option 5 would be a 14 percent rise.

After several years of rates rises capped at 2 percent on average, the council is now indicating rises of 4.5-6 percent a year for the next decade. Reports for tomorrow’s council meeting show they are looking at a 5.5 percent average rates increase for 2018-19.

Other areas of interest in scenarios from earlier councillor workshops are a rise in the roads budget from $24.7m this financial year to $30m in 2018/19, the capping of capital expenditure at $30m a year (with peaks for major projects), and a drop in some levels of service so the council can invest more in roading and its wastewater/stormwater projects.

Also noteworthy is “strong support” for investigating alternative models for commercial operations, as well as “partnering opportunities” with Eastland Community Trust. Three projects prioritised for discussions with ECT are the Olympic Pool, Waipaoa Flood Control Scheme upgrade and the Navigations Project.

Debate over council priorities for the draft 2018-2028 Long-Term Plan move from private workshops into the public arena at a full council meeting tomorrow, where councillors will also decide their preferred wastewater treatment option to go out for consultation.

The two are linked, as the wastewater treatment options before the council both have big costs attached that are a significant driver of the need for prioritisation elsewhere. It is possible some councillors will try to put a cheaper option back on the table.

The three councillors on the Wastewater Management Committee all chose Option 3, seeing it as a transitional stage towards the Option 5 that the three iwi representatives preferred. Option 3 has an estimated average annual cost of $324 per reticulated household. Option 5 has an average annual cost of $383 per household.

The average annual rates for a residential property connected to the city’s wastewater reticulation system, with one connection only, is $2707. Once implemented, option 3 entails a 12 percent rise in rates for the average affected ratepayer; option 5 would be a 14 percent rise.

After several years of rates rises capped at 2 percent on average, the council is now indicating rises of 4.5-6 percent a year for the next decade. Reports for tomorrow’s council meeting show they are looking at a 5.5 percent average rates increase for 2018-19.

Other areas of interest in scenarios from earlier councillor workshops are a rise in the roads budget from $24.7m this financial year to $30m in 2018/19, the capping of capital expenditure at $30m a year (with peaks for major projects), and a drop in some levels of service so the council can invest more in roading and its wastewater/stormwater projects.

Also noteworthy is “strong support” for investigating alternative models for commercial operations, as well as “partnering opportunities” with Eastland Community Trust. Three projects prioritised for discussions with ECT are the Olympic Pool, Waipaoa Flood Control Scheme upgrade and the Navigations Project.

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