Rates rise prompts a review

The Marlborough District Council has struck next financial year's rates, with an increase of 3.26 per cent in the overall rates take.

Councillors yesterday approved the Annual Plan, setting out the work to be done in the next financial year, starting on July 1, the council's budget, and the rates to pay for that.

The initial rates increase anticipated in the draft Annual Plan was 2.95 per cent, but that increased to 3.26 per cent after the hearings on public submissions on the plan, when several new projects were approved for rates funding.

Yesterday's meeting ratified those decisions, with no further discussion. Councillor Brian Dawson was the only councillor to vote against the Annual Plan and the rates increase.

Councillors also approved using the same land-based ratings system, geographic rating areas, and rating allocations between those areas.

However, councillor Geoff Evans secured agreement from his colleagues to have further investigation of other ratings systems.

Evans, who represents a rural constituency, said the ratings systems were complex. In the past term, there had been "real concern" about the volatility that had made a number of people's lives "quite miserable", he said.

Revaluations and then the rates charged on the basis of those valuations saw big swings, particularly for sheep and beef farms, which were deemed to have increased in value. Some farmers near Ward had rates increases of more than 40 per cent.

It was worth looking at other systems and how other councils had handled ratings changes, Evans said.

Councillor John Leggett, who chairs the community and finance committee, said that rather than a review, he favoured a workshop, so that councillors had an opportunity to discuss proposals thoroughly.

Councillors agreed to chief executive Andrew Besley preparing a report to be considered later.