Rates increase for Western Bay 'lowest in 10 years'

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Western Bay Mayor Ross Paterson. Photo/File
Western Bay Mayor Ross Paterson. Photo/File

Western Bay of Plenty District Council's total rates increase of 2.95 per cent is its lowest rates increase in more than 10 years, the council says.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council has finalised its 2016-17 Annual Plan and struck a rates increase of 1.68 percent for existing ratepayers.

The total rates increase is 2.95 percent, of which growth makes up 1.24 percent.

Western Bay Mayor Ross Paterson said the result was great news for ratepayers.

"In real terms this is an increase of just 0.08 percent once inflation of 1.6 percent is removed," he said.

"The surge in development has certainly helped us keep the rate increase to an absolute minimum. We have received a considerable increase in user fees and we have also reduced interest costs by $210,000 due to our ongoing commitment to reduce debt."

Mr Paterson said the "icing on the cake" was a windfall of $1.91 million savings and surplus in the council's transportation budget across this year and next year, meaning an injection of an additional $1.5 million into the seal extension programme over the next 12 months.

The balance of $411,000 would be put towards community roading and cycling projects.

"This brings the seal extension budget to $3.5 million meaning we will seal up to 12km of unsealed roads this year. We haven't done this amount of seal extension for a long time and it's the first time since I have been in council that we have some savings up our sleeve for roading."

The $1.91 million was made up of Te Puke Highway renewal savings of $505,000, Te Puke Highway maintenance savings of $556,000 and additional unbudgeted income from the NZ Transport Agency of $750,000.

The council would collect $57.21 million in total rates for the financial year 2016/17, a reduction of $402,957 on the initial estimate.

Total rates of $57.21 million were comprised of district rates ($35.32 million), community board rates ($427,024), water supply ($6.27 million), wastewater ($9.30 million), stormwater ($3.82 million) and other targeted rates ($2.08 million).

District rates totalling $35.32 million were comprised of the general rate ($18.86 million), town centre rate ($208,840), library rate ($1.73 million), roading rate ($13.61 million) and environmental protection rate ($900,000).

The council's total income has increased by $497,000 due to user fees and charges increasing by $967,000, reflecting the increase in development across the district. This increase in regulatory income from user pays meant a reduction in the general rate of $406,000.

The council's total expenditure has increased by $443,000 which includes an increase of $1.30 million to employ more staff, particularly in the building and consenting areas to meet the increase in development activity.

This increase has been offset by reduced forecast depreciation interest and other expenditure, totalling $586,000.

Capital expenditure has increased from $29.42 million to $41.28 million. This included $12.3 million of uncompleted works carried forward from 2016 to the 2017 financial year.

The main projects planned for this year were a $250,000 upgrade to the council's animal shelters in Katikati and Te Puke and a contribution to a plan to boost broadband access, use and capability throughout the district.

The planned $1.7 million Ongare Point Wastewater Scheme has been deferred to the 2017/18 year.

The council would also be constructing a new $3.46 million Library and Community Hub at Katikati. This project was consulted on through the 2015-25 Long Term Plan.

Other Annual Plan decisions

• $25,000 contribution to a sub-regional arts and culture strategy under a shared funding agreement with Tauranga City Council

• $180,000 for a concrete, multi-use Summerset Trail as part of the Katikati Cycle Trails network. This will be funded from the transportation surplus for community roading

• $489,000 for Te Puke Memorial Hall earthquake strengthening to be funded from the Te Puke Ward area of benefit rate

• $8000 from the general rate for new play equipment at the Dr North Memorial Reserve, Athenree

• $25,000 for employment of a contractor for monitoring freedom camping, dog control and parking at Waihi Beach, with particular focus on monitoring freedom camping at Anzac Bay where overnight camping is banned. The monitoring will take place from December 22 to February 7

• $1.3 million for construction of Two Mile Creek bank protection works, downstream of Dillon St Bridge at Waihi Beach. Funding jointly by the council (75 per cent) and affected property owners (25 per cent).

- Bay of Plenty Times

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