Three vote against draft plan

Three councillors voted against the Marlborough District Council's draft annual plan and budget because it includes a plan to change the rates for Karaka Point properties, near Picton.

Peter Jerram, Brian Dawson, and Jessica Bagge voted against the draft annual plan going out for consultation, arguing that the rates change for Karaka Point residents should not be included.

They were outvoted and it was passed 11 votes to 3.

The draft annual plan sets out the work the council plans to fund in the financial year from July, and why it is being done. As part of that, it sets the rate, proposed to be a 2.91 per cent increase.

The full annual plan is available for people to read at the council building in Seymour St in Blenheim and at public and school-based libraries throughout Marlborough. A summary is to be sent to all ratepayers.

In the draft annual plan, the council says it plans to review its long term plan, moving 58 properties in Karaka Point from the Picton vicinity geographic rating area to the Picton rating area.

"This proposed change in geographic area will result in an appreciable increase in rates for those properties . . . it will also result in a very small impact (downwards) in rates for existing Picton properties and may have a very small impact (upwards) for the remaining properties in the Picton vicinity area.

"Council will not however generate an increase in total rates and charges as a result of this proposed change. The change will only result in a re-allocation of rates."

The council tried to do this change earlier, but residents complained to the High Court, which overturned the change, saying the council had not gone through a proper consultation process.

Jerram said he was in favour of every part of the draft annual plan except the Karaka Point part.

"There was a clear direction from the court that the council erred the first time round. I think we're in danger of doing it again with excessive haste."

He said there were alternatives that had not been looked at yet, and to include it in the draft was treating people badly.

Dawson said the council was rushing the proposal. He did not agree with the draft annual plan, as he wanted a zero rates rise.

Bagge said she was not comfortable taking the draft annual plan out to the public with the Karaka Point proposal in it and trying to explain why it was there.

Mayor Alistair Sowman said he had given Karaka Point residents a personal assurance when he met them last week that the consultation process would be robust.

The Marlborough Express