For every rates dollar, Whangarei District Council spends 25 cents on transport, 18 cents on water, wastewater and stormwater, 18 cents on keeping the organisation running and 12 cents on parks.

The remainder of the ratepayer dollar is shared across categories including property, solid waste and planning. Whangarei residents can have their say on whether these figures sound about right - and any other gripes - at an event tonight featuring round-table discussions with staff and councillors. The Have Your Say Event is a first for the council as it experiments with a more conversational engagement style with residents.

WDC governance manager Jason Marris said attendees would sit at tables of 10 along with two staff members and a councillor. One staff member would act as facilitator, "to make sure everyone has the opportunity to have their say and keep people from dominating the conversation", Mr Marris said.

The event was geared towards people who did not want to go through the official submission process around this year's Annual Plan.


"We'll have a note taker will record the gist ... That becomes the feedback councils will use," he said.

"It's quite informal and that's the intention."

Mr Marris said the fact that this year's Annual Plan seemed relatively uncontroversial actually made engagement more challenging.

The plan had been advertised as "business as usual", with a slightly lower-than-expected rates increase - 3.9 per cent compared to the 4.45 per cent expected, thanks to a sluggish Local Government Cost Index (LGCI) inflation rate.

However, the three-yearly Quotable Value (QV) house price index review would impact rates bills. If a property owner's land value moved by around the average for their sector, they could expect a general rate increase in line with the council's overall rates increase.

Lower rates would slightly reduce the council's budget, though this would be balanced by low LGCI inflation.

The biggest blow to the books was the blocked sale of the Old Boys Rugby Club, which WDC had expected to earn $10.3 million from.

- The Have Your Say Event is tonight from 5.15pm at Cafler Suite on Forum North's ground floor.