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Western Bay Facing A 13.6 Percent Rates Rise

Western Bay households face paying an extra $300 to $350 this year for rates under the council's long-term plan proposal.

This rise is even with key projects for the Western Bay of Plenty being potentially pushed out to reduce rates for the district.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council is proposing to delay 12 projects including building a new indoor pool in Te Puke worth $15.7m, a $5m boat ramp in Waihi Beach and building infrastructure for a ferry service in Ōmokoroa worth $3m.

Pushing out the projects and other cost savings would mean the average rates rise for 2024 would be 13.6 per cent.

If the council were to deliver the projects within the original time frame the rates rise would be 24.4 per cent.

The council adopted its draft 2024-34 long-term plan (LTP) for public consultation at a long-term plan committee meeting on Thursday. [SUBS 9/5]

Councillor Grant Dally said this was the third LTP he had been involved with and it was the most difficult in terms of trying to get a “palatable rates increase”.

People were aware of inflation and what other councils were doing but it was “still going to hurt a lot of people”.

He encouraged people to have their say about the LTP.

Councillor Rodney Joyce said it was a “very ugly long-term plan”.

“It's better than the previous one, which was so aspirational that it just about fell apart soon after it got published.”

Local government minister Simeon Brown was telling councils to prioritise essential services and inflation for rates and related services was around 9.6 per cent, he said.

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The council was doing some “good things” through the plan, said Joyce.

“We're focusing on infrastructure, but we still have quite a few bells and whistles in there [the LTP].
“When you stack it up against affordability, people would perhaps rather we wait.”

He also encouraged people to “have their say”.

Mayor James Denyer said the council was going out with a lower rates rise than the average across New Zealand.

The average rates rise in New Zealand is 15 per cent, which was calculated by Local Government New Zealand using data from 38 draft LTPs.

“We've lowered it from a much higher number originally to a number which is lower than the national average,” said Denyer.

“We're doing a good job in a tough set of circumstances.”

Councillor Tracey Coxhead agreed.

“In the context of what other councils are doing, we've done extremely well.”

Nobody wanted to see rates increases especially more than the 4 per cent that was signalled in the previous long term plan but “it is what it is,” she said.

The council is also proposing to charge a higher roading rate for properties that are serviced by heavy vehicles by increasing the differential.

Currently commercial, industrial and post-harvest zone properties pay two times the roading rate of a residential property.

The council is proposing to increase this to four times the roading rate of residential.

This would mean the average roading rate increase for a commercial property would be $2191.15.

For a residential property the average roading rate increase for 2024 would be $251.

Infrastructure projects included the draft LTP were a new waste water treatment plant in Te Puke and the Katikati wastewater outfall upgrade.

The draft LTP consultation will run from May 17- June 17.

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

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