West Coast Regional Council rates are set to rise by a whopping 30 per cent this year, with additional increases in user fees and targeted rates for flood protection.
The council today released its long-awaited and well-overdue consultation document for its draft long term plan, after finalising the details in a closed meeting yesterday.
It says with increasing expectations being placed on the council from both central government and the community, it has no choice but to raise revenue, to cope with the workload landing on it because of new legislation protecting freshwater and biodiversity, and managing the growing risks to the region from climate change.
General rates will rise by 30 per cent in the first year of the ten-year plan, jump by 10 per cent next year, and another 10 per cent the following year.
The Uniform Annual General Charge will go up by 55 per cent from $83.38 to $128.38
The emergency management rate -- also paid by every ratepayer -- drops a few cents to $11.01 per $100,000 of a property's capital value.
But the targeted rate to cover the cost of writing the new Te Tai o Poutini district plan will almost double from $7.54 per $100,000 of CV in a one-off increase.
Across the region, West Coast rating districts set up to pay for flood protection will also be paying more, as the council deals with rising insurance costs and the need to build up reserves to cope with the growing risk from extreme weather events caused by climate change, it says.
"Flood, erosion and inundation infrastructure assets will come under increased pressure over the next 30 years.
"This includes the impacts of sea level rise, more intense and frequent storm events and no significant population growth, restricting the ability to fund such infrastructure."
The council is also hiking its user fees across the board, for whitebait monitoring, mining and forestry consents; water takes, LIMs, staff charge out rates, dairy inspections, gravel takes and septic tank assessments.
The draft LTP sets out proposals for major new flood protection projects in the Westport, Wanganui and Hokitika rating districts.
As previously reported, the council is offering Westport ratepayers two options -- a comprehensive floodwall and stopbank system to protect the town against a one in a hundred years flood or a less expensive partial stopbank system.
The first option is the one preferred by the council's engineers -- the second less costly one was the option preferred by Westport's 2100 group, although that was before last month's flood, according to council staff.
"The scheme will be funded by a 25-year term loan on behalf of the Rating District and the loan serviced by a targeted rate. The rate to undertake either of these two options would not be struck until the 2022/23 financial year."
The draft also flags proposals to extend the boundaries of the Hokitika and Greymouth rating district to spread the cost of improving flood protection in those communities over more ratepayers who stand to benefit from the work.
"During recent consultation with the Hokitika and Kaniere Rating Districts, we received feedback regarding the potential flood risk to assets on the south side of the Hokitika River," the council reports.
"We want to hear from this community as to whether there is a desire to extend the existing Hokitika Southside Rating District to fund a flood protection scheme to better protect these assets."
The cost per $100,000 of CV would be $31.54 plus GST, and maintenance costs of about $20 a year.
"If the majority of the feedback received supports consultation on a rating district extension, council staff will prepare a flood protection scheme design, and costing, which will be put out for consultation during development of the 2022/23 Annual Plan."
The plan sets out options for widening the boundaries of the Greymouth rating district which was based on the old borough boundaries.
Since then, the Greymouth residential area had grown and spreading the cost to include new residential areas that benefit would reduce the cost to the ratepayers currently shouldering the expense of flood protection, at more than $50 a year per $100,000 of CV.
The council's preferred option is to merge the Greymouth, Coal Creek, Rapahoe Rating Districts, and a proportion of the New River/Saltwater Creek Rating District; extend the Greymouth Rating District boundary to Point Elizabeth in the north and encompass Camerons, Runanga, Taylorville, Kaiata and Dobson as areas that have indirect benefit.
That would cost affected ratepayers $14.98 plus GST plus maintenance costs of $6.81 plus GST per $100,000 of a property's capital value, the council said.
Full details of the draft LTP and the proposed rate rises, with examples of the likely impact on a selection of properties across the region, will go up on the Regional council's website later today.
Council chairman Allan Birchfield said the council had managed not to increase rates last year due to the impact of Covid-19 and the uncertainty of what was happening at that time in the community.
"To meet the challenges and requirements ahead, we need to increase our income. We have no choice. Central government reform has placed our general rate under significant pressure ... and the next three years in particular are not going to be easy."
The council says it will post copies of the draft LTP to all ratepayers, consult widely over a four-week period and expects to adopt the final version in early October.