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Manawatū District Council To Consider Zero Percent Rates Change

Manawatū District Council will consider an average rates change of zero percent for the coming financial year at its meeting on the 23 April.

Recognising the economic and social impacts on the community of Covid-19 and the continuing drought, Council has been looking at ways it can assist the community as the District rebuilds its business and social communities.

The proposed zero percent average rates change has been achieved firstly by Council funding the majority of its annual projects from emergency reserves, and secondly there will be no change to staff salary or wages next year.

When developing next year's annual plan, Council had planned a 4.6% rates increase to fund a range of projects required to prepare for the rapid growth occurring in the district.

Council recognises that the impact of Covid-19 and the drought will result in increased unemployment, reduced revenue for businesses and financial stress for many. The proposed average rates change of zero percent will help reduce this stress.

While the average rates will not increase, rates for each property will vary depending on any change in the property value in the district-wide revaluations in August 2019. For each property, rates may go up or down by a small amount, or stay the same.

Council understands the revaluation impact on ratepayers, which is beyond its control, especially on our Feilding residential ratepayers and that a zero percent average rates change is the best way right now to lessen this impact.

Council's Chief Executive Richard Templer said this reflects the benefits of Council making provision for emergency events, for having a 'rainy-day' fund.

“It's now 'raining heavily' and Council needs to use this fund," says Templer.

“The executive team unanimously agreed that in the current situation it was appropriate to have a zero percent salary and wage round next year. This applies to all staff, starting with the executive."

At the Council meeting on 23 April, Elected Members will also consider asking the Remuneration Authority, who determine the salary of Mayors and Councillors nation-wide, to freeze their salaries for next year.

Council staff also reviewed and prioritised all the projects intended to be delivered as part of the annual plan. No significant changes in the projects are planned reflecting their alignment with Council’s strategic outcomes. Council also recognises the importance of its continued investment with local businesses to deliver for the community.

Council's total budget will increase by 1.5 percent which reflects the growth in the number of ratepayers in the district over the last year.

The zero percent change to average rates will apply for only one year and will exhaust the emergency reserve fund.

During the next financial year, Council will be developing its plan for the next ten years, which will include further proposals on how Council will respond to the future economic and social situation and rebuilding the emergency reserves.

The council meeting can be viewed live on the Council website.

Meeting agenda and reports can be viewed here.

© Scoop Media

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