Horizons Regional Council's average 1 per cent rate rise was described by one councillor as "a total misread" and by another as financially responsible.

Councillors discussed their 2020-2021 annual plan on Tuesday, May 26. It comes with a 1 per cent average rate rise, a reduction from a proposed 5.95 per cent increase.

The small increase was needed due to increased insurance and transport costs, and reduced income from investments, chairwoman Rachel Keedwell said.

Tararua's Allan Benbow proposed the 1 per cent. He said it was only an average figure, and the actual increase would vary from property to property.

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For Whanganui, Horowhenua and Manawatū, where properties have recently been revalued, the increase could be more than 10 per cent. In Tararua he is expecting a 7.5 per cent rates reduction.

"We have got this real skewing going on. I think it's a bigger problem than the percentage increase."

Whanganui councillor Nicola Patrick seconded his motion. She said her house has recently been revalued from $220,000 to $350,000. With a 1 per cent rate increase her rates will rise $49 a year. A nil rates increase would still see them go up $45 per year.

"It's different numbers but just a few cents for a property," Patrick said.

"Some people will be getting rates reductions in Whanganui. Every property is different."

For councillors John Turkington and David Cotton the difference from 0 to 1 per cent matters a lot because of how ratepayers will perceive it. Turkington said any increase was "a total misread".

Cotton said council chief executive Michael McCartney had said a zero per cent increase was possible. Some Castlecliff people may face a 20 per cent increase in Horizons rates, Cotton said, because their properties have had a big increase in value.

Rangitīkei councillor Bruce Gordon said a lot of the work the council does is "airy-fairy" and could be put on hold. He put biodiversity and education in that category.

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"We have got a lot of airy-fairy stuff that goes on in this organisation that should cease right now."

Councillors Fiona Gordon, Allan Benbow, Sam Ferguson, Wiremu Te Awe Awe and Emma Clarke said the public had asked for more to be done, not less.

Ferguson said the 1 per cent was a compromise and encouraged those against it to reconsider.

Deputy chairman Jono Naylor said the 1 per cent would mean the council would have to dip into reserves and anything less would be financially irresponsible. If more was cut, some of the council's work would have to cease.

The annual plan and its rate rise was supported by seven councillors, including Keedwell, and opposed by five. It was adopted.