Rotorua ratepayers can expect a 3.8 per cent average rates increase after just two major funding changes were made to the council's Annual Plan.
After more than five days of verbal submission hearings and deliberations, Rotorua district councillors agreed to go ahead with rates increases signalled in the council's draft Annual Plan discussion document that was released for public consultation in early April.
Barring any changes made when the Annual Plan is adopted by the council on June 29, Rotorua's urban ratepayers are likely to pay an additional 4.1 per cent on their average rates bill for the coming financial year.
It also includes a 0.5 per cent rates increase to cover costs incurred by the closure of the Rotorua Museum in November last year.
The proposed increase comes on top of a 6 to 8 per cent average rise for urban residents in 2015 and a 2 to 2.2 per cent average rise last year.
During the past two days of deliberations, councillors agreed to add $300,000 to the budget for the sealing of rural roads, boosting its funding to $1 million for the next year.
The council also agreed to push $2m of funding for earthquake strengthening and an upgrade to the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre back another year until a full business case had been presented to councillors.
It was part of a $6.5m redevelopment and strengthening plan announced in the draft plan and means the council will borrow about $3.8m next year, instead of a proposed $5.5m.
However, the council's new Rural Community Board made significant progress after taking part in its first Annual Plan process with changes to waste management services and an additional $300,000 for rural road sealing.
Board chairwoman Shirley Trumper said she was pleased councillors had supported the board's submissions "and it's a recognition of the needs of our rural community".
"Rural people measure what they get for their rates, and this is addressing those requests, the board is very happy, especially for the extended waste service that they have not gone ahead with that we felt was very unfair on rural residents."
Ms Trumper said each rural community had different needs regarding waste management and they were looking forward to tailoring the service to those needs.
Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers Association chairwoman Glenys Searancke said she was pleased the council had listened to its rural ratepayers and had also not gone ahead with the upgrade to the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre.
"Rural people were constantly telling us that all they get for their rates is a bit of roading, so the additional funding is good, but a million dollars won't go far," she said.
"Deferring work on the Concert Chamber I also agree with, I don't think there is a need for it to be upgraded and more background work is needed."
Mrs Searancke said she was not surprised there were few changes to the draft plan and rising debt levels were still a concern for the association.
Rotorua Lakes Council Annual Plan key changes:
- East Rotoiti/Rotoma ratepayers will not start contributing to the cost of their proposed $30m plus sewerage schemes until the schemes have been commissioned.
- Waste services will not be extended to unserviced rural communities in the 2017/18 year. Further consultation will be done with those communities to develop options.
- Earthquake strengthening and upgrade of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre will be put on hold until further work is done, with the involvement of stakeholders, on the value of the project.
- There will be no museum targeted rate. The proposed per property $14.20 amount will instead be added to the general rate through the Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC). However, all ratepayers will pay the same amount as signalled in the draft plan.
- Council will increase funding for rural seal extension by $300,000, to $1m, and will consider an accelerated sealing extension programme and targeted funding options in its 2018-28 Long-term Plan deliberations.
- Average rates increase of 3.8 per cent across the district
- Residential ratepayers facing a 4.1 per cent average rate increase
- Includes a 0.5 per cent increase to cover costs for the Rotorua Museum
- An extra $300,000 added for rural road sealing
- Total submissions: 295
- Annual plan adopted June 29