Rates rise in draft plan below estimate

BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 05:00 26/03/2014

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Rates are set to increase for Environment Southland ratepayers, though not as much as projected in the region's Long Term Plan.

Environment Southland's draft annual plan, which goes before council today, proposes an $832,234 increase on the current 2013-14 year to a total rates take of $13.696 million.

This is less than the $15.049m forecast by the long term plan.

This means urban properties could expect an increase of between $4 and $13 a year, while rural properties could expect increases ranging from $60 to $125 a year, depending on their valuation.

The increases came from a combination of the council receiving less income from grants than previous years, using less surplus to offset rates costs, and increases across the board.

Environment Southland chairwoman Ali Timms said the rates increase was mainly to do with the response to water quality issues in Southland.

Among these was the establishment of the new land and water services division, which includes two new positions at Environment Southland, she said.

The division focuses on working with landowners to adopt land management practices which reduce the risk to water quality.

While overall rates will go up, the dairy differential rates take is set to reduce from $1,238,500 in 2013/14 to $970,375 in 2014/15.

In 2013-14, the rate was reduced by $261,000 from reserves to $977,500.

Ms Timms said the reduction came after a rates review but there were also more dairy farms in the region, which also contributed to the drop.

Environment Southland had also received a submission from the Bluff Coastguard seeking a grant of $200,000 to go towards their replacement boat.

The submission has not been included in the funding provisions of the draft annual plan, but councillors may decide to include it or put it to public consultation, she said.

Environment Southland councillors will decide whether to adopt the draft annual plan today, and if it goes ahead, it will be open for submissions until May 6.

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