A proposed increase in rates was not the best timed, a Dannevirke Community Board member said this week.
Tararua District Council announced a proposed increase of 11.37 per cent for the 2022-2023 annual plan.
This had not been well-received by ratepayers who brought up concerns at last week's meeting of the Dannevirke Ratepayers and Residents' Association.
Community board member Terry Hynes said he had been fielding questions over the rates hike from residents.
"I think the timing is not the best," he told the meeting.
"I don't know when the time would be the best at the moment, with the increase in cost of living, fuel, insurance and now rates for Tararua residents."
He said he was concerned for low-income earners and pensioners who would struggle with the increase.
The question was asked whether the rates subsidy for low-income earners would be reviewed in the light of any increases this year.
Hynes felt it was important to support low-income earners, not only in Dannevirke, but in the Tararua as a whole.
He said the rate assistance definitely needed to be looked at and shouldn't be kept at the same level.
Board member Ross MacDonald said a comparison with other districts showed that Tararua's rates were not as high.
However, Louis Houlbrooke of the New Zealand Taxpayers Union said Tararua ratepayers had good reason to feel ripped off.
"Of the 25 non-regional councils to have released their proposed rates hike, Tararua District Council has the second highest rates hike, behind only Tauranga City Council.
Houlbrooke said the rates hike in Tararua was especially painful coming off the back of last year's 9.44 per cent rates hike.
"Some councillors seem to think ratepayers have short memories, but when you're setting a household budget, the effects of compounding annual rate hikes are impossible to ignore.
"The proposed rate hike far exceeds projected inflation and can only reflect a failure at the council to make prudent reductions in low-priority spending, in the same way that households across the country have done in the face of a cost of living crisis."
Council's manager of democracy services Richard Taylor said the council had agonised long and hard over the rate rise and had worked hard to bring it down.
"I don't think any member of council would disagree with the sentiments expressed," he said.
The rates rebate was set by Central Government rather than council and administered by the Department of Internal Affairs.
Any review of the thresholds for the rebate would also be done at a Central Government level.
Councillor Erana Peeti-Webber said the council was moving to a user-pays system.
She said currently for some services, for instance a building consent, the fee would cover a certain amount of hours worked on the application, taking into account government costs as well.
That meant that any hours that went over that amount, the ratepayers would have to prop up.
Peeti-Webber said a lot of fees and charges had been increased to counteract that so the ratepayers weren't having to pay for the person actually getting the service.
"That's across the board," she said.
Taylor said if ratepayers had ideas on where some services could be cut to reduce the increase in the rates, they were welcome to provide that feedback, either through the Super Consultation or directly to council.
Hynes said it was unfortunate that "we're in an era where costs are going up".
"We do have very good people who are going to suffer and suffer quite badly as a result. This is just another issue that people are going to have to face."
He said one way of addressing it was to increase the rate subsidy and asked if the council could make a submission to the Government on that.
A spokesperson from the Department of Internal Affairs (Te Tari Taiwhenua) said the maximum rates rebate amount payable for the 2021 financial year was $665.
The maximum income allowed to receive a full rebate was $26,510 per year.
The spokesperson said there were additional factors that were also considered, such as the level of rates, number of dependents and whether the home was jointly owned.
"The maximum rebate, and the income abatement threshold are reviewed each year and if agreed are announced in July.
"Since 2008, this has resulted in adjustments to the scheme in line with movement to the Consumer Price Index. For example, last year the amounts were adjusted by 1.4 per cent."
Information on the rates rebate is available at the Internal Affairs website.
There was also information on assistance with accommodation through Work and Income.