Ruapehu District Council has announced an average 3.5 per cent rates increase for the 2020-21 financial year, and mayor Don Cameron says a "significant consideration" had been how to respond to the impact of Covid-19.
"Despite calls for territorial authorities to have a zero per cent rate rise this year due
to the impact of Covid on some in our community, on balance council felt that
ultimately this would be more detrimental to ratepayers," he said.
"As council does not have reserves or alternative income streams to rates, if rates
income was to stop, so would council's spending on the essential services necessary
to keep our communities healthy, safe and operating."
Cameron said the council was required to manage the impact of Covid-19 and to upgrade its core infrastructure.
"A zero per cent rate rise would only delay critical infrastructure work and lead to a
double-digit rate rise for ratepayers in future years.
"It should also be noted that the final 3.5 per cent was only achieved after two significant rounds of cuts to council's initially desired work programme."
Activity managers were instructed to identify anything that was not required to
prevent critical infrastructure failure or meet legislated requirements, Cameron said, resulting in the average rates increase dropping from 9 per cent to 4.7 per cent.
A second round of cuts, notably from the parks and reserves budget, took it to 3.5 per cent.
"Just over half of 3.5 per cent is going towards water, including the upgrading of the Ohakune water treatment plant, renewal of the water main along Hakiaha St, and water and wastewater pipes on Hospital Hill in Taumarunui," Cameron said.
"The remainder of the rates rise is going toward maintaining services, and inflation
"The impact of the cuts is illustrated by the fact that rural ratepayers not paying
water rates will only have an average rate rise of between 0.6–1.1 per cent."
The council will hold community hui around the district during August. More information is available on the council's website and Facebook page.