Death more expensive as council hikes fees

The cost of dying is going up in Horowhenua, with cemetery fees among a range of council charges set to be increased, with minimal public input.

Horowhenua District Council is carrying out its annual review of fees and charges, with the final figures to be confirmed at a council meeting next week.

Included in the changes is an increase of 6 per cent plus inflation for cemetery fees, as well as increases in dog control, parks and reserves, solid waste and water charges.

Finance manager Doug Law said the council reviewed the fees and charges it set each year.

In the past this had been done as part of the draft Annual Plan process, which is open to public submissions. However, this was not a statutory requirement and council had chosen this year to set its fees and charges at next week's council meeting. The only opportunity for public comment would be in the public forum at the start of that night's meeting.

Horowhenua District Residents and Ratepayers Association president Dave Thomson said there needed to be more transparency around the changes as people affected were unlikely to read the agenda for Wednesday's meeting.

He would have preferred the fees and charges changes be included in the draft Annual Plan.

Mr Thomson questioned the need for the increases, citing the council's financial position, which includes a proposed average 9.9 per cent rates increase. "They're trying to get as much revenue as they can because they're in the dog box," he said.

Among the changes to cemetery fees are an increase in the cost of an adult plot from $1387.50 to $1475 from July 1. Internment fees for adults will rise from $973 to $1040.

Dog owners will have their first fee increase in three years, with dog registration costs going up by at least $10 per animal. The cost of registering a pet dog would rise from $92 to $102, though those with selected owner status would pay only $45, which is up from $35.

Registering a working dog would cost $47 under the new schedule, up from $37, while impoundment fees would go up from $65 to $80.

The cost of a trip to the tip will also increase slightly, with changes of a dollar or two being made to the fees for dropping off rubbish at council refuse centres. Changes are also being made to charges for use of water, parks and reserves and to liquor licensing fees.

There would be no changes to fees and charges for services such as community halls and centres, building, parking and pensioner flats.

Mr Law said, if adopted at Wednesday's meeting, the proposed Schedule of Fees and Charges would take effect from July 1.

Anyone wishing to speak about any of the proposed changes at Wednesday night's meeting should contact the council by midday on Wednesday.

Manawatu Standard