Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Councillors launch rates challenge (+ video)

2 comments

A pair of incumbent Rotorua district councillors have laid down a challenge to their fellow council candidates to make a public pledge to keep future rates rises under 2 per cent.

Rob Kent, who is also running for mayor of Rotorua, and Mike McVicker say rates revenue collected by the council over the past three years has risen 19 per cent and ratepayers were not getting enough bang for their bucks.

However, the council's financial services manager Paul Sands said rates revenue collected had increased by 13.9 per cent over that time "with variation due to growth in the district and lump sum repayments of capital sewerage rates".

Mr Sands said rates increases over the last three years had been approved by the council at 3 per cent, 7 per cent and 1.9 per cent respectively.

But, Mr Kent and Mr McVicker said those rates increases were not sufficiently challenged in council and were not justified in their view.

Mr Kent wants all candidates to publicly pledge to hold any rates increases in the coming years to under 2 per cent and if they made it onto council, to stick to their promise.

"Many people are complaining bitterly about rates increases and unnecessary expenditure. All we are doing is trying to be realistic by sticking to core services and eliminating vanity projects," Mr McVicker said.

"We believe projects like the City Focus upgrade, Green Corridor cycleway and the library and health hub is just tipping ratepayer money down the drain," Mr Kent said.

"Actually, I think we can do better than less than 2 per cent, but I can only prove that if I'm re-elected."

The council's Strategy, Policy and Finance committee chairwoman Merepeka Raukawa-Tait said she did not take getting back into council for granted and making a pledge at this stage would not be a wise move.

"We have this sort of discussion with all of the councillors around the council table," she said.

Operations and Monitoring committee chairwoman Janet Wepa said she agreed with her colleague.

"No-one knows who will be on council until after the election."

She said the council's financial position after not having to borrow a further $7 million this year was good and with a cash surplus of $3 million she said there may not be a lot of financial pressure on the incoming council to increase rates next year.

"But, we have to always weigh these matters up when you come to any decisions on rates.

"There have been good reasons to increase rates and one was to reduce debt after we were asked to by the public.

"No-one wants to put rates up unnecessarily," she said.

Mr Kent and Mr McVicker said they would be asking each candidate if they would take the pledge in the lead up to October's election.

- Rotorua Daily Post

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 24 Feb 2017 23:57:28 Processing Time: 1082ms