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Small rates rise likely,Draft shows increase would be less than 3 percent

NEARLY 100 percent of Gisborne District Council ratepayers will face a rates increase of up to 3 percent if draft financial estimates for the coming 2017/18 financial year are approved following consultation with the public.

Chief executive Judy Campbell said for the first time the council was able to identify that 96 percent of ratepayers would be included in this 3 percent group.

The Future Tairawhiti committee was considering the draft financial estimates for 2017/18, the third year of the 10-year long-term plan.

The draft estimated rates presented by senior project accountant Pauline Freeman provide for a total rates collection of $54 million in the 2017/18 year, which is an increase of 1.97 percent on the total collected last year and is within the long-term plan parameter of increases of not more than 2 percent.

The estimates have a forecast operating expenditure of $86.3 million, with a capital works programme of $42.4 million, which is an increase of $13 million in the amount forecast for year three of the 10-year plan. The main increases in the capital works programme are due to the timing of major projects.

Changes to the way rural fire services are funded, which will see urban and rural fire services amalgamated into an integrated service, have produced a saving of $613,000 but that has been absorbed in other operational expenses.

An increase of $51,500 for coastal protection works at Wainui has been smoothed out to extend over three years to relieve pressure on the 113 ratepayers in the Wainui area who will pay this targeted rate.

The estimated council debt of $79 million, including $49 million of external debt, is $5 million more than the present financial year and is due to higher capital expenditure. The council is forecasting an accounting surplus for the 2017/18 year.

Mrs Campbell said it was important to remember this was a draft.

The council was not approving these estimates, merely adopting them as a draft for consultation with the community.

With such a narrow band of difference, one did not need to talk about an average overall rates increase of 1.9 percent.

The remaining 4 percent were mainly self-generated so they could be looked at from house to house.

The Wainui costal protection works would have had an effect on such a small group. That was why they had been smoothed out over three years.

Previously, an average increase of 2 percent overall could include some individual properties that were facing increases of as much as 50 percent.

That was why she was emphasising the figure of 96 percent with increases of 3 percent or less. There was not some long tail of people getting rates increases off the back of someone getting rates decreases.

“That is because of the work we did in clustering the rates and smoothing them,” she said.

The draft estimates were adopted by the committee.