A Wairoa resident says a rates restructure threatens to "kill" the town, and would "allow cashed-up Aucklanders and others who can afford to live in our piece of paradise to move in".
Complaints about high council rates in the Wairoa District don't surprise Mayor Craig Little, despite a reputation for some of the lowest rates per capita in New Zealand.
He said there will be anomalies from property to property in the current rates structure, and anyone who thinks they've been hard done by should contact the council as soon possible, to look for a remedy both immediate and long-term.
The council is currently conducting the district's first rates review in about a decade, including forming a ratepayer stakeholders group, and is committed to completing the review by the end of the year.
"It's a major job, but we are doing it," he said.
Concern was raised by ratepayers at a meeting earlier this month, following the presentation of a petition to the chief executive, Steven May, in June.
One ratepayer balked at a notice received on Thursday when he saw the annual bill from the council had the rates at over $4000, on a property valued at $185,000, while another told Hawke's Bay Today his rates bill is about $3000 "…on your average Kiwi quarter-acre."
Writing to Hawke's Bay Today, the ratepayer with the $4000 bill said such rates would "kill" the town, and it would "allow cashed-up Aucklanders and others who can afford to live in our piece of paradise to move in."
But the Wellington-based New Zealand Taxpayers' Union has consistently placed Wairoa among the 10 cheapest areas in which to live based on rates per capita - $1880 when 5th on the list in 2018.
Little told Hawke's Bay Today: "I accept there will be anomalies. Actually, it's a pain in the arse. Anyone who has got an anomaly should come and see us. Help us get it right."
He said "the reality" is that the council has been "punching above our weight" in trying to limit the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis on top of some unique costs, particularly for an area having a small population on a large land mass.
The rates increase had been kept to an average of 5 per cent in line with the annual plan.
Little said the district currently has 54 rating "differentials", where many councils have as few as 4 or 5.
But he said that despite the issues the last time the public was asked the consensus was for "no change".