Councillors target rates increase of 2 to 3 per cent

By Matthew Martin

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Rotorua district councillors will head into three days of budget meetings today with an eye on keeping any rates increases between 2 and 3 per cent.

However, for the fifth time in five years fees and charges for Animal Control services and Environmental Health could go up by an average of 3 per cent if councillors agree to recommendations from council staff.

Resource Management Act fees for land use consents could also go up by an average of 3 per cent while there will be no change to Building Services fees.

Resource Management Act fees and charges will go up for land-use consent fees but not for policy or subdivision fees - the council's consent fees remain among the cheapest in the region.

Councillors will discuss the coming financial year's budgets at an extraordinary meeting of the council's Corporate and Customer Services committee from 9.30am today, tomorrow and on Wednesday.

Committee chairwoman Janet Wepa said she didn't expect too many surprises during the deliberation process.

"Everything is up for debate, but usually we stick pretty closely to what we agreed on in the Long Term Plan."

She said a new style of financial reporting by staff would allow for more transparency in the budgeting process as councillors had asked for more detailed reporting.

"Staff have asked for some increases to fees and like everything else this will be debated. We are going down the line of more user-pays philosophy and that's on purpose because we are looking at the real cost of those services."

Mrs Wepa said there would probably be some interesting debate around airport marketing costs as well.

With the latest Consumer Price Index increase of just 0.9 per cent, Mrs Wepa said the overall rates increase would most likely be below 3 per cent "but you don't want to assume anything".

The council's Corporate and Customer Services Group manager, Jean-Paul Gaston, said the council's policy was to adjust fees and charges on an on-going basis to reflect inflationary changes, and shift an increasing proportion of fees and charges to user-pays.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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