Rate rise of 1.9pc to 4pc predicted

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 07:21 26/02/2014

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The Marlborough District Council will set a proposed rate increase of between 1.9 per cent and 4 per cent at a meeting tomorrow, it is predicted.

A meeting of the Blenheim Residents' and Ratepayers' Association heard a 1.9 per cent increase would see services maintained, while a 4 per cent increase would mean 15 extra items on the council agenda for additional spending would be given approval.

Among ideas on the table is maintenance work on Wither Hills Farm Park and a proposal for the live streaming of council meetings. Coastal monitoring of the Marlborough Sounds marine environment needed $337,000.

Once the council sets its draft budget, it goes to the community for public consultation before a final rate is struck in June.

Councillor Jamie Arbuckle said he would like more money put into gateway signs that welcome people to Blenheim. He said only $5000 was spent on signage, and improved gateway signs could cement Blenheim's branding.

A rates increase could bring back a Christmas tree to Blenheim, he said.

Mr Arbuckle added there were submissions for a dog park in Blenheim and paying for fast speed broadband.

He told the meeting the council had the opportunity to dip into reserves including the "relatively healthy" Forest Park reserve.

"Obviously we have to be prudent, we don't want to use our reserve for grocery items. There is scope to use reserves for the big ticket items in the future."

Councillor Jessica Bagge said the rates increase was in line with a 1.6 per cent increase in the consumer price index, which measures the price change of goods and services purchased by New Zealand households, and a 2 per cent increase in the local government cost index, which measures the price change of goods and services purchased by local governments. She urged the association to make submissions for spend on projects that were important to the community.

The association is researching ideas to submit to the council including additional wheelie bins for recycled rubbish, a play park, and painting the Grove Rd Bridge .

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- The Marlborough Express

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