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Rates Rise ‘worth A Weekly Cuppa’

Gisborne city ratepayers will be short a cup of coffee a week, a district councillor says, with residential rates set to go up by 6.4 percent, on average, from July.


The “cup of coffee” analogy was used by Larry Foster yesterday as the council signed off a proposed overall rates hike of 4.87 percent for the 2021 financial year.


Rates bills will go up by more than 5 percent for 55 percent of ratepayers, with households in the city expected to pay an extra $150 to $200 over the year.


Cr Foster said councillors had just heard about the district’s housing crisis and need for adequate infrastructure, and that most people would be happy to supplement the council’s work by $3 to $4 a week.


“This is our future,” he said.


But councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown thought “a cup of coffee” was not an insignificant amount for many in the region, saying middle income earners were “feeling it big time”.


Many had not had a pay rise for some time and felt the stress of any additional expense, Cr Akuhata-Brown said.


Nonetheless, she could see the need for the rates increase, in terms of building better infrastructure for Gisborne.


Councillors were presented with the 2020/21 draft annual plan last week but deferred a decision on its proposed rates hike so they could further discuss why the increase was necessary.


The plan sets the council’s rates take for the year to June 30, 2021, at $62.8 million.
The increase has been deemed necessary because of the council’s February 2019 decision to more quickly implement wastewater disinfection, along with the need to employ more staff to process resource consent applications and depreciation on council assets.


At yesterday’s full council meeting, councillors pushed ahead with the rates hike, but the community will now be consulted on the differences between the proposed annual plan and the 2018-28 Long Term Plan, which budgeted a 3.26 percent overall rates rise for 2020/21.


Councillors Shannon Dowsing and Amber Dunn voted against the last-minute recommendation for a consultation document to be prepared.


Cr Dowsing said the council needed to accelerate the second stage of its wastewater treatment plant upgrade to meet impending resource consent conditions.


The upgrade was not optional and suggesting through public consultation that it was up for debate was disingenuous, he said.


But chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said the council had been advised to undertake consultation and community feedback could have an impact on the final annual plan to be adopted in June.


Councillor Kerry Worsnop said public feedback on the plan should have been sought before now and the process looked and felt “messy”.

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