$1.25m from rates for quake works

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 22/02/2013

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An extra $1.25 million to strengthen earthquake-prone buildings has been added to the Palmerston North City Council's draft Annual Plan for next year.

It is one of several new items included in a budget that would require an overall 3.8 per cent rates rise, down from the 5.2 per cent forecast in the Long-Term Plan.

City councillors have their first public debate on the draft plan on Monday.

Savings in staff costs, recycling collection and interest costs helped produce a budget that controlled rates while still allowing scope for some new projects, said Mayor Jono Naylor and chief executive Paddy Clifford in their introduction.

The money to upgrade some of the council's earthquake-prone buildings could be applied to Square Edge, the Fitzherbert Park grandstand, the Kelvin Grove crematorium, the Albert St workshops and the old Keith St power station.

New spending is also included for improving the quality of the city's treated sewage discharge to the Manawatu River ($600,000), and strengthening the city's water supply through works at the Turitea Dam and Papaioea Park water bore ($200,000), and development of a solar farm for the main council building and convention centre ($240,000).

Projects already signalled to go ahead next year include the wildlife rehabilitation aviary at the Esplanade, a pipeline to take Ashhurst's sewage to the Totara Rd treatment plant, and improvements to the Papaioea flats.

In other variations, the council is expecting to take a $200,000 cut in parking revenue because of lower demand, and a $150,000 cut in revenue from sales of rubbish bags.

Several capital projects due to start this year will be carried forward into the coming financial year.

The council's debt at the end of the 2013-14 year is expected to be $134 million, $9m less than forecast in the Long-Term Plan.

For a property with an average $136,000 land value, rates under the draft budget would be $2084 a year, or $40.08 a week.

At a land value of $90,000, the rates for a single house would be $1782, and for a $155,000 land value, the rates would be $2209.

Following council confirmation of the draft, submissions will be open from March 25 until April 26, with hearings in May.

* The Manawatu Standard is looking for a family living in their own home with a near average land valuation to take part in the Annual Plan process and comment on how the plan and the rates rise would affect family members.

Write to the editor at PO Box 3, Palmerston North, or editor@msl.co.nz (include names and addresses), or text to 027 498 1242.

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