Slight Rates Increase for the District
Annual Key community projects will retain their funding and the increase in rates will remain at 3.74% in the Hurunui District this year.
The Hurunui District Annual Plan 2020-21 was adopted by the Council at its meeting of Thursday June 25, 2020.
It was unanimously agreed upon and adopted by all Council members.
Although not a legal requirement, an engagement process with the community was undertaken after the draft Annual Plan Budget was released on 14 May and engagement was undertaken throughout the district to hear community views of the proposals contained in the plan.
This process culminated in the hearing of the feedback on June 18 whereby various items of received community feedback were reviewed, and changes were proposed within the budget.
Feedback was received from 24 individuals or organisations, and Council Chief Financial Officer Jason Beck said after a number of workshops and debate on the budget, and taking into account the effects of COVID-19 and the restrictions it posed, key components were revised.
These included the reinstatement of a grant to Hanmer Heritage Forest Trust of $5,200, a reinstatement of the School Achievers Awards of $10,000, a reinstatement of the Grant to the Hurunui Trails Trust of $40,000, and a reduction in the Canterbury Museum Operating Levy from $85,326 to $83,701. With regard to the budgets for the Tourism Board, Operating Income increases by $15,000 to reflect third party contributions, increase to Operating Expenditure by $139,435 to reflect the updated marketing plan and an increase to Capital Expenditure by $10,000 to reflect improvements to the information boards was also included.
Mayor Marie Black said it has been a very tough few months for the region, particularly in the tourism sector. For example, even after scaling back on staffing and other expenses at the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa complex, the anticipated profits due to COVID-19 will fall from $3.4 million, to $64,000 in the 2020/2021 financial year.
She added that the reinstatement of the grants were offset by further savings forecast to be achieved in the cost of the Council’s external debt, as external debt interest rates had continued to fall between the period since the draft budgets were prepared.
“This 3.74% increase is lower than the 5% originally proposed in the Long Term Plan, and considerably lower than the 15% which would have been necessary to redress the loss of pool complex income.”
The Council is about to undertake its Long Term Planning process for the 2021-31 period, which Mrs Black said is a critical component of planning for the current term of Council, whereby the community will have an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution in assessing the long term direction of the Hurunui District.
During the very early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council approved a Rates Deferment Policy, to provide relief for some ratepayers.
“The Council remains very mindful that there will be ratepayers who are suffering as a result of COVID-19. We encourage anybody who would qualify for the deferment to make an application.”