Mayor outlines rate rise

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 06:56 12/02/2013
Palmerston North mayor Jono Naylor
WARWICK SMITH/Fairfax NZ
Palmerston North mayor Jono Naylor.

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Palmerston North ratepayers are likely to face a rates increase worth about a packet of chippies a week in the coming financial year.

Mayor Jono Naylor forecast the city council’s draft Annual Plan would include a 3.9 per cent rates rise, while speaking to the Palmerston North Rotary Club yesterday.

That would add about $78 to the average homeowner’s annual rates bill, or $1.50 a week.

The average land value for houses in the city is about $136,000.

The suggested rise is lower than the 5.3 per cent increase signalled in the Long Term Plan that was adopted last year.

This year’s rise was 5.6 per cent.

The first version of the draft Annual Plan is likely to be public next week in the agenda for the committee of council’s first formal debate at the end of the month.

Mr Naylor said the rising cost of insurance and likely extra spending at the city’s wastewater treatment plant were among the challenges that would make it difficult to keep the rates rise below 5 per cent.

He said council chief executive Paddy Clifford and staff had worked hard to make savings to pull the draft rates rise down to 3.9 per cent.

Some ratepayers would say it was too much, he said.

‘‘But in the context we are faced with, that’s what it’s going to be unless we want to see a drop in the levels of service.’’

Another issue which could derail the council’s financial planning is a government review of councils’ ability to claim contributions from developers to pay for infrastructure to support growth.

Mr Naylor took a swing at former Local Government Minister Nick Smith, one of the authors of the review.

‘‘Now he’s the Minister of Housing, and he’s still having a go at local government.

‘‘He thinks it’s our fault people can’t afford houses.’’

Mr Naylor said the Government could solve that problem if it moved government departments that did not have to be in Auckland to other cities where people could afford to live.

Mr Naylor said one of his ‘‘pet programmes’’ included in this year’s budget was the makeover of the Esplanade aviaries to become a rehabilitation centre for wildlife treated at Massey University’s Wildbase wildlife treatment centre.

‘‘People will be able to go and see endangered species before they are released to the wild – it will be like having stories like Happy Feet (the penguin) every month.

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The Long Term Plan has the council spending $737,000 as the ratepayers’ contribution to the project next year.

- Manawatu Standard

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