Residential ratepayers in the Tararua District are on average paying more than a fifth more in annual rates than two years ago – the biggest increase in the wider Hawke's Bay area.
According to council's figures, its ratepayers are in the midst of a 21.2 per cent increase over two years, with an average increase of 11.22 per cent for the 2022-2023 year, on top of 9.44 per cent for the year just gone.
Wairoa District Council ratepayers will have an average increase of 9.1 per cent this year, on top of a 10.5 per cent increase last year, a cumulative impact of 20.5 per cent.
The lowest two-year accumulation in Hawke's Bay was in the Hastings District, where its council last Thursday settled on a 6.9 per cent increase for 2022-2023, including 0.3 per cent added to accommodate the purchase of the Tomoana Showgrounds which had been confirmed a few days earlier.
On top of a 6.8 per cent increase last year, it made a two-year accumulation of 14.2 per cent across the Hastings-Havelock North-Flaxmere area and the townships and rural expanse of the district.
Central Hawke's Bay District Council's two-year accumulation is an increase of just over 16 per cent, with 6.8 per cent on top of the 2021-2022 increase of 8.7 per cent.
Also meeting last Thursday, the Napier City Council struck its rates at an average increase of 9.8 per cent, which with 8 per cent last year meant a two-year increase of 18.6 per cent.
Ratepayers also pay separately to the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, which increased rates this year by an average 15 per cent, after a 19.5 per cent increase for 2021-22. The regional council rate is on average 20-25 per cent in addition to the local council rate.
The increases are expected to be similar throughout the country, although wider details are not yet available, with political lobby the Taxpayers Union's ranking of councils throughout the country expected later this year.
Compiled from details requested from councils, it was last done in 2021, when the national average residential rate was $2571, the average "metro" rate was $2739 and rural residential rates across New Zealand averaged $2410.
At the time the highest average rates in the wider-Hawke's Bay were in the Hastings District at $2552, ranking the district No 31 on the list from highest to lowest of councils throughout the country.
The average residential rate in Central Hawke's Bay in 2021 was $2417 (No 37), Tararua $2397 (No 48), Napier $2290 (No 49), and Wairoa $2204 (No 57).
The pressures on councils have been highlighted by all mayors, but particularly by
Tararua's Tracey Collis, whose district effectively has seven towns, similarly duplicating such things as water services.
As all councils do, Tararua has projected annual rates increases within its 2021-2031 long-term plan, in its case from 6.7 per cent in 2023-2034 to under 4 per cent in 2029-2030 and 2030-2031, but Collis warns that if the cost regime continues "… we're not going to be able to hold to that".
Fuel cost is one factor most will understand, she says, citing as an example a staff trip to coastal Akitio, a round trip of about 150km and one which generally has "no technology that can help with that".
She said the council did everything to keep the cost back during the Covid-19 pandemic, but "on reflection" now wondered whether that was the right thing to do, because the costs would accumulate anyway.
"There will be some really hard decisions to be made, and we'll have to focus on every dollar that we spend. But while we need to provide the best for the ratepayers, we have got to be affordable."