Ruapehu District Council has signalled an average 3.52 per cent rate increase in its annual plan for the 2019/20 financial year.

The increase is less than the 3.86 per cent forecast in the council's long-term plan (LTP) but in line with the yearly 10-year projection of 3.5 per cent.

Mayor Don Cameron said the increase would allow the council to maintain services and work on delivering its significant capital works programme worth $17.3m.

"Over March and April we will be holding public meetings throughout the district to discuss the year ahead, including the work programme, and answer any questions people may have on the annual plan," Cameron said.

There were no significant changes to the council's work programmes or direction but some minor changes had been made to the order of the work plan.

Cameron said the council had "the usual cost challenges" but lower debt servicing costs and increased revenue from building activity had helped achieve the lower than forecast rate increase.

"Our projected debt level at $30.1m will be $3.6m under the $33.7m forecast in the LTP and our debt serving is benefiting from our joining the Local Government Funding Agency [LGFA]," he said.

"Increased building activity, which indicates a growing district, and with it a growing ratepayer base and revenue, is also helping."


The council was waiting for government direction on some significant issues, including the management of drinking water, stormwater and wastewater (three waters) and climate change.

"The Government review of the water sector is ongoing and whatever the final outcome it is likely to mean higher costs, as highlighted in the LTP, in future years," Cameron said.

"At this stage we have no firm indication of how the water review will impact us and feel it is likely that any significant changes will be a subject for the next LTP [2021-2031].

"While the new LTP and asset management plans take climate change impacts into account and we are planning further research into mitigation strategies, we anticipate that Government legislation will increase costs in this area."

Despite these "unknowns", the council was well positioned to adapt as and when required and manage within its long term rate and debt projections, he said.

"An example of this is our goal of aligning township revitalisation and water renewal works with Chorus' UFB roll-out so that we only need to dig once and minimise cost and disruption.

"Chorus has indicated a timeframe of late this year to start UFB roll-out in Taumarunui.

"If we need to start work this financial year we will reprioritise funding and balance things out in later years so as not to lose the opportunity to align the work programmes."