Infrastructure upgrades behind rating review

Today the Rangitikei District Council will hear submissions from the public on its long term plan.

The change to the district-wide charging of rates is considered by Mayor Chalky Leary as the "biggest thing" from the plan.

It is likely to be the most controversial too.

While some areas in the district will experience a dramatic increase in rates, and others a decrease, both Mr Leary and RDC chief executive Clare Hadley said the change had only been introduced with the intention of being fair to all ratepayers.

The aim was to have one big pool of money to spend on the whole district, which Mr Leary said would save money in the long run.

"At the moment we've got all these little jam jars full of money," Mr Leary said.

"I think the people generally accept that we are doing the best we can."

Under the new system all areas of the district will be rated similarly but overall rates are set to rise.

The council is faced with some significant capital expenditure especially with regard to upgrading wastewater treatment systems to meet new and more stringent consent conditions.

"We have to do it... you don't have any choice," Ms Hadley said.

All towns in the Rangitikei need substantial infrastructure upgrades.

For some towns it has been 60 to 70 years since major infrastructure has been invested in.

Bulls and Ratana need wastewater upgrades and Taihape's Pumping Station is non-compliant.

"Standards have changed," Leary said.

"What was OK 25 years ago is not acceptable now. By paying rates, ratepayers can enjoy the improvements."

Mr Leary said work that needed doing could not be paid for with the current rates revenue.

"It's like trying to build a new roof on your house with the normal household expenditure."

The council is also looking to extend its debt to $29 million over the next 10 years to help pay for work.

Manawatu Standard