Final decision on rates plan

The Tasman District Council has signed off its annual plan, confirming ratepayers will need to pay a 3 per cent total average rate rise.

The figures remain the same as signalled last month - the district's debt will be $174m for this financial year and landowners will see an average general rate increase of 1.73 per cent.

When the council's various targeted rates are taken into account, the total average rate increase will be 3.09 per cent. However, the plan for this 2014-2015 financial year does mark a change as to how the council manages its money.

Operational savings made during the plan's creation have been used to support capital renewals - rather than sticking with the past policy of borrowing to build. This saw $900,000 saved by the council by bringing its engineering consultancy services back in-house redirected to projects.

Corporate services manager Mike Drummond said the financial thinking behind the plan had changed in that the council now set its financial budgets at the start of the programme so managers knew how much money they had to work with.

Councillors also approved a treasury policy, which includes funding the balance sheet as a whole and reducing the borrowing limit from 20 per cent to 15 per cent to align it with the Government's fiscal prudence measures.

Key plan changes agreed by councillors last month included:

Deferring the Motueka Library project upgrade and re-allocating $1 million of the original $1.076m budget to minor upgrades and earthquake strengthening of the existing building; removing the $1m in funding for the Golden Bay Service Centre (the future of which will be decided in the LTP 2015-2025); adding $1m to the Golden Bay Community Facility project and capping the council's contribution at $3.2m while increasing the district community facility rate by $10 per property to help fund the project.

The council also confirmed putting $300,000 towards the Wakefield to Spooner's cycle trail, on the proviso the Government or a third party would match the remainder; removed charges at all council recycling centres for electronic items; moved $10,000 from the Golden Bay Ward Reserve Financial contributions to the upgrade of the Golden Bay Community Centre and provide an additional $19,220 for the project; transferred $5000 from the general gardens account to the Wakefield Village Green project.

Other changes for property owners include the need to pay their future rates on the 20th of the month and the introduction of a range of customer-service charges.

The Nelson Mail