Tasman rates to rise up to 3.5pc

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 12:58 14/03/2014

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Tasman district ratepayers face rate rises of between 2 and 3.5 per cent.

The Tasman District Council says it is working to address its outstanding debt while keeping rates as low as possible.

It released this year's Draft Annual Plan for consultation yesterday. The plan proposes a total rates revenue rise of 2.9 per cent, which includes a growth component of around 1.3 per cent.

General rates are set to rise by 1.56 per cent, and with targeted rates most properties will have a total rates rise of between 2.04 and 3.53 per cent.

The council is seeking public consultation until April 15, and the final document will be adopted in June.

Casualties in the council's efforts to reduce debt include axing the proposed Golden Bay Community Facility from this year's Draft Annual Plan; delaying the next stage of Tasman's Great Taste Trail; reducing then ending support from general rates for Nelson Tasman Tourism and upgrading rather than building bigger premises for the Motueka library.

Mayor Richard Kempthorne said the Draft Annual Plan carried on last year's theme of reducing the council's reliance on debt.

"This theme has been at the centre of our discussions and this, the resultant draft plan, shows we are prepared to take the hard decisions and prioritise."

He said the community had been strongly supportive of this stance. As of December 31, 2013, the TDC's debt stood at $157 million. Its Long-Term Plan forecast that the total debt would increase to $193m by next June if priorities are not shifted toward debt repayment, but around $19m of this balance could be avoided if most of the proposed rates increase for this year was put towards repayments.

Council spokesman Chris Choat said around 2 per cent of the council's total revenue would go towards debt repayment. The amount of rates revenue the council had set this year would allow the council to spend money it already had, rather than taking on more debt.

"We've got to a sum where we believe that's what we need to fund initiatives, as opposed to borrowing money."

Besides debt repayment, the largest portion of this year's rates income will be spent on sanitation, drainage and water supply, which will take up 42 per cent of rates, operating and capital expenditure in the 2014-15 financial year.

Community services is second-highest at 22 per cent, with 17 per cent going on transportation, 13 per cent being spent on environment and planning, governance taking up 5 per cent and council enterprises and property receiving the smallest budget at 1 per cent of rates revenue.

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In an example provided by the council, a $485,000 Richmond home will have a total rates increase of 3.37 per cent which will cost an extra $98.52, taking the bill from $2922.80 to $3021.32.

The council also provided an example based on a Waimea Village property worth $185,000. The owner is set to see the sharpest rates rise out of all the examples given, with a total increase of 3.53 per cent or $69.24. The 171-dwelling village was the focus of a long-running dispute over the cost of land leases, but it was resolved in December when businessman Kit Maling set up a business to take over its management.

Richmond man Robert Souch split the cost of a residential home in Waimea Village with his son, Rupert, in 2011. Mr Souch said he was disappointed that the rates had risen this year, saying he accepted the region was in debt but felt that there should be an "economy of scale" which would instead reduce the villagers' costs.

The lowest rates increase in the examples given was 2.04 per cent for a Golden Bay farm, valued at $7.25m, which is set to pay an extra $457 in rates this year bringing its bill to $22,885.

The council is also proposing to raise most fees by 3.3 per cent. Dog registration charges, some corporate charges, and fees set by government regulations are exempt, but library borrowing charges for new adult books will rise from $1 to $1.50.

Connection fees for water and wastewater services are also planned to rise, with an additional standard charge for physical works.

The council will hold public meetings on the draft plan, starting in Murchison and Tapawera on March 24.

HOW MUCH?

Proposed total rates, includes 1.56 per cent general rates rise plus targeted rates Value Rise New Rates

Golden Bay farm $7.25m 2.04% $457 $22,885

Takaka home $270,000 3.27% $78 $2470

Richmond home $485,000 3.37% $98 $3021

Motueka home $350,000 3.26% $82 $2622

Waimea Village $185,000 3.53% $69 $2030

- Nelson

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