Reduced rates income increase as Annual Plan adopted
Horowhenua District Council’s Annual Plan 2019/20 includes a drop in Council’s rates income increase from 5.9 per cent to 4.6 per cent, and a drop in the general rate increase from 16.8 per cent to 8.8 per cent.
Council’s Chief Financial Officer Doug Law said the rates income increase and the general rate increase were different things, and any change in rates paid on individual properties would be different again.
“The 4.6 per cent increase in Council’s rates income represents a rise in Council’s total income from rates. It’s not an average increase in rates across the district. And the general rate makes up part of the overall rates paid by each property – it covers services and facilities that benefit the whole district,” he said.
“The overall average rates increase for rural ratepayers will be considerably lower than originally proposed, dropping from 8.9 per cent to between four and five per cent. Average urban rates have also reduced slightly. However, the actual impact on rates per property depends on many factors, including the land and capital value of the property, and changes in any targeted rates relevant to that property,” he said.
Targeted rates include services such as water supply and wastewater disposal, which are charged only to those properties that receive the service. Some targeted rates may rise more than others, depending on increases in the costs to Council of providing the relevant service and any major capital investment Council plans for that service.
Mayor of Horowhenua Michael Feyen said the reduction in rates income and the drop in the general rate increase had been made in response to submissions received during public consultation on the Draft Annual Plan 2019/20.
Council received 42 written submissions on its Draft Annual Plan, and 22 submitters attended hearings in May to speak to their submission.
“I’d like to thank those who made submissions and came to speak at hearings. Your feedback was heard and helped inform the decision to reduce the rates income increase to under five per cent,” Mayor Feyen said.
Mr Law said the reduced rates income increase had been made possible by lowering assumed interest rates, revising budgets for capital expenditure, increasing targets for non-rate revenue and reducing the budget for employee benefits. However, levels of service would stay the same, he said.
The Annual Plan 2019/20 was adopted at the Council meeting of 26 June. Some key areas of focus for the coming year include:
• developing Master Plans for the district’s growth areas, including Gladstone Green in east Levin, Foxton Beach and Waitārere Beach
• working closely with our communities to create community plans that set the vision, goals and key action priorities for each community so they grow and develop in a way that meets their aspirations
• planning ahead for the district’s transport needs
• starting to implement an upgrade to the Foxton Wastewater Treatment that will enable treated wastewater to be discharged to land rather than into the Manawatū River Loop
• improving the kerbside recycling collection service
• carrying out a feasibility study for the potential development of a community centre in Shannon
• carrying out feasibility studies for implementing reticulated water services in Ōhau and Waitārere Beach, and wastewater services in Ōhau.
The Annual Plan also forecasts the budget and debt levels for 2019/20. Council’s debt in 2019/20 is forecast to be $110 million, which is higher than the $105 million forecast in the Long Term Plan.
Mr Law said the increase in debt was largely due to meeting the challenges of growth and improving Council’s level of service to minimise waste and encourage recycling.