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Bigger rates hike for city

GISBORNE city ratepayers face a higher rates increase than others in the district in draft estimates approved for the 2018-28 long-term plan.

Acting GDC chief financial officer Pauline Foreman said while the estimates called for an increase of 4.89 percent in the total rates collected for the first year, for the city it would be an average of 6.9 percent.

That reflects the costs associated with the level of services supplied to ratepayers in the city. In this case the costs for infrastructure services such as wastewater and water supply had increased, the council was told.

The draft estimates have seen rates increases smoothed over 10 years so they do not exceed 5 percent in any one year.

The projected increases for the remaining nine years of the plan range from 4.8 percent in the sixth year to 2.5 percent in the final year.

The maximum debt level during the period has been reduced from an original figure of $105 million to $100 million.

The total capital expenditure for the 10-year programme is $379 million, made up of $298 million of core capital works and $81 million of major projects.

The council also approved a draft financial strategy that will allow for accounting surpluses during each year of the plan.

The strategy also calls on the council to increase alternative revenue streams through partnerships, investment and targeted contributions.

Draft estimates to go out for public consultationThe draft strategy prompted a debate between councillors after Larry Foster said the council should give individual examples when it went out to consult with the public. A 5 percent increase on a $2000 rates bill would equate to $1.92 a week.

Graeme Thomson said he found the word “only” hard to swallow when he knew of people who were paying $20,000 a year in rates.

Mr Foster said he did not say only, he said “as an example”.

Mr Thomson said if people could not work out what 5 percent of $2000 was, he did not think they would own a house. Such examples would take away the reality that some people paid a lot more in rates.

Rehette Stoltz said she thought Mr Thomson’s comment about owning a house were a bit harsh.

Mayor Meng Foon asked councillors to take the personal stuff out of the debate.

Amber Dunn said the wastewater upgrade should be included in the list of critical activities on which the council should focus.

Also she wanted a key direction for ensuring sustainable water for horticulture, extended from just the managed aquifer recharge project to be broader and look at other avenues.

There were only about 36 users of the aquifer.

Mr Foon said all financial advisers said people should pay their mortgage off first. That also applied to the council.

The draft estimates and financial strategy will be included in public consultation on the 10-year plan.