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Ashburton Dog Owners Face Fee Hike

The cost of owning a dog in Ashburton is set to increase over the next five years, but it remains one of the cheaper rates in the country.

The Ashburton District Council increased the dog registration and control fees last year to allow for inflation, and is now planning an incremental rise over the next five years.

Dog owners will pay from $2 to $6 more per year to register their dog, depending on a range of factors.

Environmental monitoring manager Rick Catchpowle said the fee was being increased because the revenue from dog registrations was tracking too low.

The revenue target from registration and control fees is between 85-95% to keep ratepayers' contribution, through the general rate, below 15%.

However, it is currently sitting at 72%.

Council plans to introduce a graduated increase in fees of 7% each year for the next five years to reach the revenue target.

Councillor Carolyn Cameron suggested only raising fees for the “non-compliant dog registration aspects”.

Compliance and development group manager Jane Donaldson said it was more complicated than that, and the bulk of dog owners are responsible dog owners.

“Some councils just charge a flat fee whether you have a dog that is good, bad, neutered or not neutered, and everything else.

“There is a certain attraction in that as it is so much easier to predict your income and do the billing.

“From an education point of view, I don’t think it sends the right message. There is no incentive there for people to be responsible dog owners which is why we have stuck with what we have got.”

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Councillor Richard Wilson said he was cautious of reaching a “price point” that starts to increase noncompliance.

Catchpowle said the 7% increases is not seen as significant and compliance has been increasing in recent years to the point of having 98% of the known dogs in the district registered.

“In previous years we would be looking at 500-600 dogs being unregistered.

“We are not seeing that now.”

As of the end of March, the district was at 97.5% registration, with 6823 registered and 177 known dogs that were not registered.

At the end of the 2022/23 year the district had reached 98.4% registration.

Every dog over the age of three months needs to be registered and the council will process around 7000 registrations in July.

What’s the increase?

The 7% rise will see registering an urban de-sexed dog increase from $66 to $70 and an un-neutered urban dog from $99 to $105.

For rural dogs, it’s an increase of $4 to $70 each for the first two dogs and $33 (up $2) for each additional dog.

Responsible dog owner (RDO) status, set by criteria in the council's Dog Control Policy, entitles them to a reduced annual dog registration fee of $64 (up $4).

Failure to register a dog incurs a $300 fine.

How does Ashburton compare?

The cost in each district to register an ‘urban neutered dog’ (paying on time) in 2023/24:

Wellington: $135
Auckland: $117
Nelson: $115
Dunedin: $109
Masterton: $102
Grey: $90
Christchurch: $83
Waitaki: $70
Buller: $69.50
Timaru: $69
Waimakariri: $67
Ashburton: $66
Selwyn: $45

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