Rates increase below four percent for Hurunui

For the third year in a row the Hurunui District Council has been able to set a rates increase of less than four percent.

The Council adopted its Annual Plan on Thursday (June 30) and confirmed an average 3.59% rates increase for the coming year – which is one of the lowest rate increases in the country.

Mayor Winton Dalley says, while conscious of the current financial climate, the Council is comfortable it has been able to deliver a budget and plan that will best serve the district in the year ahead.

“We have not lost sight of the need to balance progress with affordability, and the ability of our ratepayers to pay and have been very prudent in calculating our overall income and spending this year, and how much will need to come from rates.

“We have pruned where we can, where that has not compromised the need to undertake essential works and provide services to ensure our community continues to grow.”

In managing for a third year to keep its rates increase below four percent, Mayor Dalley says ratepayers need to appreciate the gains that are coming from the operation of the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa complex that have helped offset costs.

“Without the significant return on our investment in the pools, which we are able to use to offset the costs of running and managing our reserves, our rates would be much higher.”

More than $9million of the Council’s estimated income of $29million will come from its ownership of the complex.

Mayor Dalley cautions the increase does not, however, take into account the anticipated fallout from the February earthquake that struck Canterbury.

“While in our planning for the year ahead, we had considered the impact of the September earthquake on costs and services, we still do not yet know the full impact of the second and more devastating shake, though clearly the cost of insurance and some services will increase significantly.

“While we have made some provision for these costs, where we may have underestimated the full impact, we will need to make what adjustments we can once those costs are finally known.”

The Annual Plan, which was adopted today, sets out what money council needs to carry out its work and confirms a number of key projects including:

• Improved road drainage for both sealed and unsealed roads – to meet our road safety commitments and flood risk management outcomes. This work is about getting water away from roads as quickly and efficiently as possible to minimise or prevent damage to roads as well as making them safer to drive on.

• Improved sealed road maintenance – in order to get the most out of our annual road reseal programme.

• Upgrade of our library software system – to better manage our library information relating to resources, customers, usage and stock.

• Engineering enhancements – to improve our ability to manage across a range of services including roads, water, sewer, stormwater etc. Given the important of the projects the engineering department manages and the impact these have on the whole district, it is essential we have the tools and resources to manage this area most effectively.

• Increased maintenance of the council headquarters – now over 20 years old the simple reality is things wear our or become outmoded and non-repairable. Vehicle security will also be addressed.

For further information contact:

Winton Dalley

Mayor

Hurunui District Council

P: 03 314 0011