Forestry rating whack on way

EDITORIAL

With consultation on the district’s 10-year plan about to start, the most closely watched aspect in the release of the draft plan on Monday will be proposed rate rises across different ratepayer categories.

Average rises will be about 5 percent, but some can expect more — principally forest owners, who face a 50 percent hike in their roading differential.

City and fringe-city residents who saw their property values swell in ratings revaluations out last October can also expect hikes slightly above average.

Late last year council staff had proposed average rate rises, based on their work programme, of 6.8 percent for 2018/19 and 5.7 percent for 2019/20, dropping to about 4 percent then 3 percent in the next two years, rising to about 5 percent in the following two years.

At their December 14 meeting councillors rejected those bigger rises in coming years — leading into the next election . . . ouch — and called for them to be smoothed. Staff were told to deliver maximum average rises of 5 percent for the next three years.

Forest owners are going to be whacked with considerably bigger proposed hikes, as the draft LTP will see their road weighting differential go from 5.0 to 7.5 (compared to 1.0 for residential and lifestyle, 1.5 for horticultural and pastoral, and 2.0 for industrial and commercial).

This decision was “workshopped” by the council in a public-excluded session on January 24, and approved along with other revenue and financing policy amendments at their February 22 meeting.

It would have been a good and important debate to have had in an open forum, but that will come when the forestry industry responds during the consultation process.

There was opposition to the move from 4.0 to 5.0 three years ago, but the industry needs the district and NZTA to significantly boost roading expenditure, and might be comfortable paying more as long as others also do their bit. Most glaringly, they will be able to point to the inequity of farm-foresters paying only a pastoral differential — and, in particular, council-owned farms that include 1550 hectares of exotic forest now being harvested. Apparently that will be up for review a year from now.

With consultation on the district’s 10-year plan about to start, the most closely watched aspect in the release of the draft plan on Monday will be proposed rate rises across different ratepayer categories.

Average rises will be about 5 percent, but some can expect more — principally forest owners, who face a 50 percent hike in their roading differential.

City and fringe-city residents who saw their property values swell in ratings revaluations out last October can also expect hikes slightly above average.

Late last year council staff had proposed average rate rises, based on their work programme, of 6.8 percent for 2018/19 and 5.7 percent for 2019/20, dropping to about 4 percent then 3 percent in the next two years, rising to about 5 percent in the following two years.

At their December 14 meeting councillors rejected those bigger rises in coming years — leading into the next election . . . ouch — and called for them to be smoothed. Staff were told to deliver maximum average rises of 5 percent for the next three years.

Forest owners are going to be whacked with considerably bigger proposed hikes, as the draft LTP will see their road weighting differential go from 5.0 to 7.5 (compared to 1.0 for residential and lifestyle, 1.5 for horticultural and pastoral, and 2.0 for industrial and commercial).

This decision was “workshopped” by the council in a public-excluded session on January 24, and approved along with other revenue and financing policy amendments at their February 22 meeting.

It would have been a good and important debate to have had in an open forum, but that will come when the forestry industry responds during the consultation process.

There was opposition to the move from 4.0 to 5.0 three years ago, but the industry needs the district and NZTA to significantly boost roading expenditure, and might be comfortable paying more as long as others also do their bit. Most glaringly, they will be able to point to the inequity of farm-foresters paying only a pastoral differential — and, in particular, council-owned farms that include 1550 hectares of exotic forest now being harvested. Apparently that will be up for review a year from now.

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    See also:
    April 21 editorial, The local share of roads spending