Tauranga residents are bracing for a rates hike, voted in by the narrowest of margins. Council decided 6-5 in favour of a 12.6 per cent rates rise, equating to an extra $4 a week on average.

Councillors and the mayor are bracing for the public's response.

Mayor Tenby Powell says an "abject lack of courage" has seen the city fall behind on funding and infrastructure.

But the ratepayers aren't happy, with more than 100 of them attending a meeting in Pāpāmoa last week to discuss what could be done to overturn the decision.

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"Our constituents are on low incomes and fixed incomes and any rate increase is a rate increase too much, particularly a 12.6 per cent increase," Pāpāmoa Residents and Ratepayers Association member Philip Brown said.

"We're all aware of the projects that haven't gone right," councillor Dawn Kiddie said.

"I'm not here to slam the past. I'm here to say that potentially the processes and strategic planning needs to be done on a different level."

Tauranga City councillor Steve Morris is looking for one more vote at the council table.

"We need one other person to agree with us in terms of getting more information and having another look at it because it was 6-5."

Former Tauranga mayor Greg Brownless attended the Pāpāmoa meeting. Photo / Gavin Ogden
Former Tauranga mayor Greg Brownless attended the Pāpāmoa meeting. Photo / Gavin Ogden

One surprise in the council vote was former deputy mayor Kelvin Clout, who campaigned for low rates but then voted for the 12.6 increase. Clout said skyrocketing capital costs and the need for massive infrastructure investments were behind his decision.

Pāpāmoa resident Rosemarie Turley said she was disappointed.

"It tipped the balance from six to five meaning that there are more of the councillors voting for the rate rise than are opposed to it, so that was a bit concerning when he used that as a campaign platform and now he's changed his mind," she said.

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Increasing rates was always going to raise hackles. And these residents were demanding why they had to be so high when Tauranga already paid some of the highest rates in the county.

Pāpāmoa resident Grant Pegler said commercial rates should be increased.

"I wonder if the council have looked at all the options. There is a big differential between commercial rates in Tauranga and residential rates," he said.

"The residential rates are something like the second highest in the country but the commercial rates are extremely low compared to other centres, so why doesn't the council look at increasing the commercial rates?"

Public consultation for the draft annual plan was expected to start on March 25 with a public meeting planned to let residents have their say.

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