Rates hike, dog park among Gore talks

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 19/04/2014

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A rates hike, a million-dollar wastewater project, changes to commercial property rates, halting the Arts and Heritage precinct redevelopment and a dog park are just some of the issues up for debate in the Gore District Council draft annual plan.

The plan for the coming financial year, adopted this week, reveals residents face a 3.76 per cent district-wide rated increase, which would see the district coughing up $15.8 million in rates in 2014-15 - about $570,000 more than the previous year.

The plan says council services paid for by rates will cost urban ratepayers $41.84 a week, lifestyle block ratepayers $37.67 a week, and large-scale farm owners $97.94 a week.

Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks said while no-one would be happy with a rates increase, the council could not do everything at once and he urged ratepayers to have their say in a formal submission.

Chief financial officer Luke Blackbeard said the increase was on par with the council's Long Term Plan, which forecast a 3.7 per cent district-wide increase.

The plan also proposes a change to the way commercial properties in Gore and Mataura are rated for parks and reserves.

Since 2006, the council has used a fixed targeted rate on commercial and industrial properties to levy their contribution, using six tiers, based on property values.

There was a fixed charged for each tier, ranging from $455.45 to $3604.26.

Blackbeard said this caused disparity and concern among business owners. "Properties can be quite close in value but if one sits at the top end of a tier it can pay considerably less than a business at the bottom of the tier above."

The council proposed to remove the tiers and rate commercial properties based on capital value. There would be a minimum contribution of $450 and a maximum of $4000, he said.

Chief executive Stephen Parry said there would always be winners and losers when a rating formula was changed.

Hicks said the new "fair system" resulted from feedback the council received about four years ago.

The plan also reassessed the timing of some projects, Hicks said.

Fencing the Eccles St playground had been topical with the community for the past 18 months. The popular playground fronts two busy roads, which caused concern, so the council proposed to put up a steel post fence.

It has set aside $13,000 to be funded by rates, which added 0.1 per cent to rates.

Establishing a dog park at Hamilton Park had been in concept phase for five years and a decision needed to be made on whether to proceed, Hicks said.

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The council put aside $23,500 for the park, which would be funded by a loan.

The council would also take out a $1.9m loan for stage one of a major wastewater improvement project for south and west Gore.

The project would relieve pressure on the current reticulation and was a priority, but it would have to be done in stages.

The Arts and Heritage precinct redevelopment had been put on hold to allow resources to be used elsewhere, while redevelopment of the council administration building was also put on hold because of debate around earthquake-prone buildings.

ISSUES UP FOR DEBATE

Public consultation will open on April 26 and close on May 27.

 

District-wide rate increase of 3.76 per cent

Raising a $1.9 million loan for stage one of a major wastewater improvement project for South and West Gore.

Fencing the Eccles St playground

Establishing a dog park at Hamilton Park Arts and Heritage precinct redevelopment and upgrading of council administration building put on hold. 


- The Southland Times

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