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General rates increase more than halved in Draft Annual Plan


General rates increase more than halved in Draft Annual Plan

Better-than-expected investment earnings and a close look at its budget have enabled the Northland Regional Council to more than halve its previously signalled general rates increase.

Last year’s Long Term Plan (LTP) had forecast a general rates increase of 6.45% for 2013/14, but the council’s Draft Annual Plan – due to be released for public comment on Saturday 19 January – now includes a smaller proposed increase of three percent.

Council Chairman Craig Brown says for a ratepayer in the Whangarei district whose property has a $225,000 land value the revised figure would mean a total GST-inclusive rates bill of $235.40 for the year – or $4.87 a week.

A similar ratepayer in the Kaipara district would pay $186.60 in rates for the year ($3.59 per week) and in the Far North $175.65 ($3.38 a week). (All three figures exclude river management rates and the Kaitaia transport rate which are only levied on ratepayers in affected areas.)

“We can achieve this by looking closely at our budgets for further cost savings and through investment returns being higher than forecast last year.”

Mr Brown says despite changes to the Local Government Act late last year, the Draft Annual Plan contains little that has not already been planned for – and consulted on – as part of last year’s LTP process.

“This includes the use of investment income for regional economic development which councillors believe is a core public service given Northland's economic and socio-economic record in recent years.”

Mr Brown says the regional council is forecasting total operational spending of $27.5 million during 2013/14, half of which (50%) will be spent on resource management.

Another 16% will be spent on transport activity, nine percent each on river management and community representation and engagement, eight percent on economic development, six percent on hazard management and two percent on support.

“Our proposed capital spending for 2013/14 is $7.7 million. A detention dam designed to reduce the impacts of flooding in urban Whangarei accounts for $6.4 million of this, funded through a targeted rate already established under last year’s LTP. The remainder is made up of equipment replacement, information technology, vehicle replacement and work for the Awanui River Flood Management Scheme.”

Mr Brown says full details of the work the council is proposing can be found in the Draft Annual Plan, which the public can comment on from Saturday 19 January until 3pm on Thursday 21 February.

A 12-page summary of the draft plan – complete with a submission form – as well as copies of the 140-page full draft will be available from all council offices or via the council’s website www.nrc.govt.nz/haveyoursay during the submission period.
ENDS

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