Tough Calls Made for Future Financial Security

have your say02Hurunui District Council's Long Term Plan for 2015 - 2025 Consultation Document is now available, and will be open for submissions from this Monday.

Titled “The Rate Debate”, the document has a sub-heading telling readers that the council is proposing to change their rates – and invites them to read the document to find out why.

The Consultation Document outlines the key issues and priorities for the next ten years, as well as Council's financial position, and includes links to supporting documents, strategies and policies.

Chief Executive Hamish Dobbie says the Consultation Document is a must-read for all ratepayers and residents in the district.

“We have come to the difficult position of proposing rates increases to pay for core service upgrades, particularly in the water and sewer area. Costs have been driven up through increased central government regulatory standards. To fund these upgrades, and manage the associated debt in a sustainable manner, we are proposing some fundamental changes to the way we have historically done this.”

As a result of the increased regulatory standards and the consequential, expensive, infrastructure upgrades ahead, the key changes being proposed are:

•     Using the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa profits to repay debt and to spend less of the profits to offset the general rate.

•     Charging rates to fund the depreciation of water and sewer infrastructure so that there isn’t a need to borrow to fund replacements.

•     Changing to a district wide rating system to pay for water and sewer services instead of localised targeted rating.

Mayor Winton Dalley said that it's a balancing act between the money needed to provide services for the community, and what can be afforded – he said that the council is very keen to hear your views on these proposals.

“The changes will affect some people more than others. Although the proposed changes will increase rates from our historically low levels, we are still confident that the Hurunui district will remain an affordable place to live and that our debt will be managed into the future.

“We are aware of some individual rate increases that are significantly above the average, some of these can be attributed to a correction of historically unsustainably under rating. These higher numbers need to be taken in the context of our new funding strategy taking a long term view delivering fairness and affordability over time.

“We have not made a final decision on any of these matters yet.  We want to hear what you have to say before we confirm our way forward, and encourage you to participate.  We look forward to hearing from you.”

The proposals will result in higher rates increases in years one through to five before the increases lessen from year six onwards. For year one (2015/2016), the proposed increase to the total rates income is from $14.9 million to $15.9 million. This works out to be an average overall rate increase of 5.87% (after allowing for growth), but individual increases will depend on where the property is located, and what type of property it is (for example, urban or rural).

The Consultation Document sets out all of the proposed rates increases for the next ten years, and will be available online at www.hurunui.govt.nz/ltp, as well as at Council's offices in Amberley, and all library service centres.

During the consultation period, council officers and elected members will be available at the local A&P shows and various other district locations to speak to ratepayers and residents about the Consultation Document.

Submissions close on Thursday 30 April 2015.

"We want to ensure our LTP works for you, so have a look at what we are proposing and please feel free to contact us if you have any queries. You can submit online or by writing, or come along to a community discussion. Every opinion counts and we want to hear yours," Mayor Dalley said.