Wanting to pay his regional council rates early Whanganui man Robert Peake was alarmed and annoyed to find his projected rates had increased 53 per cent.
He was looking at the Rating Information Database on the Horizons Regional Council website. It showed that $121.22 of the increase was a new charge for the Matarawa River Management Scheme.
Peake queried the council, and was told no one else was complaining. He wasn't told that what he was looking at was interim information. Rates had yet to be finalised, and no invoices had been sent out.
Horizons' chief financial officer Leanne Macdonald said it was an error in the figures used that brought the cost for the scheme to $121.22 a year for each urban Whanganui property. It should have been much less.
Earlier in the year the council had said the amount would be 74 cents a year per $100,000 worth of a property's capital value. For Peake that would amount to about $3.74, Macdonald said.
The online information has been removed, more checks and assessments are to come, and the adopted rates totals will be up later in July.
"We apologise for this error and any concern this has placed on our ratepayers," Macdonald said.
Peake can live with paying $3.74, and is pleased he picked up the error.
The Matarawa Stream flows through Whanganui East and its management scheme aims to stop it flooding residents. Upstream there are diversions and dams, but within the suburb it had become clogged with vegetation.
Last summer Horizons spent $320,000 clearing part of it. The rest is to be cleared this summer.
The clearing will be funded by a loan, to be paid back over 10 years, with the cost shared by all urban Whanganui landowners. After 10 years it will halve, because only maintenance will be needed.
For Whanganui ratepayers rates have increased an average 6.95 per cent this year, Macdonald said. The only new rate is one for overseeing the health of drinking water.
Pre-existing rates have gone up by varying amounts. Targeted rates, which are mainly for flood protection, have gone up by an average 20 per cent.