Napier ratepayers facing the possibility of large rates increases as a result of policy changes proposed by their city council have been making their views known at public meetings called by the council.
But it's not an issue for mayor Kirsten Wise, who wants the people to have as much a say as possible to make sure the council gets it right by the time it makes its decisions next year.
Submissions close on December 2, and people will have the chance to speak to their submissions at hearings scheduled by the council.
There have been five revenue and financing consultation meetings, with crowds varying from as many as 100, to about 20, the number at a late-morning Wednesday meeting in McLean Park's Chapman Pavilion, fronted by Wise and council investment and funding manager Garry Hrustinsky. Also at the meeting were councillors Richard McGrath, Sally Crown and Hayley Brown.
Better attended meetings – with full houses - had previously been held in Bay View and Taradale.
Proposed is the biggest change to rating structure in Napier since 1989, when the city boundaries were extended to include parts of the Hawke's Bay County, as its council was being ushered out of existence by widespread local government reform.
The council proposal is to reduce the categories from six to three, named
Residential/Other, Commercial and Industrial, and Rural, which has the effect of increasing some rates, but with minor impact on the majority – about 22,000 would have a slight decrease.
Ratepayers have been sent notices which include the likely differences in their rates if the scheme is put into place, some seeing possible increases of more than 40 per cent.
Among examples found by Hawke's Bay Today are property in Maraenui with a rise of $2.52 a year, to $1666.54 annually, and another in Le Quesne Rd, Bay View, increasing $511.51 a year to $2627.69. One property in Meeanee Rd is quoted at $1568.12 a year, an increase of $276.19, while a Bluff Hill property is quoted at $4322.63 a year, an increase of $25.93.
An Eskdale woman, at Wednesday's meeting and having been at the Bay View meeting, told Hawke's Bay Today a proposal to increase the general rate by 39 per cent was "awful timing" in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, particularly for those who don't have all the services that are provided in the city and its nearer suburbs, such as reticulated water, kerbs and verges on the roads outside their homes, street lighting, or access to public (bus) transport.
"I had a few questions I was going to ask, but it was mostly covered," she said, but she still has her concerns and, like the mayor, urges people to make submissions to the council.
Among suggestions being made was that at least one more category be added to the proposal in an attempt to alleviate what some see as anomalies.
The council says most of those attending the meetings have been owners of properties proposed to be moved into the new Residential/Other category with a proposed rates increase.
But changes can be made, the council saying in a statement: "We have received feedback from a number of community members at the public meetings and have received a good number of submissions so far. Changes could be made to the proposals based on public feedback."
The council says the proposed changes to the differential categories for the general rate will provide a "simpler and more consistent" approach, but at Wednesday's meeting Wise said that if people thought council was "over-simplifying" the scheme they should make it known in their submissions.