A smaller rates rise than predicted is on the cards for Stratford ratepayers this year.
As part of the district's draft annual plan, a 3.15 per cent increase is now mooted for the 2014-2015 period, instead of the forecasted increase of 4.63 per cent which was set out in the council's Long Term Plan (LTP).
However, at Tuesday's council meeting councillor Rob Thomson said he was concerned about how the annual plan's budgeted surplus of $969,000 was being used.
He said this money could have been used to provide for a further rates decrease instead.
"I struggle to understand why we need such a big surplus," Mr Thomson said.
Council chief executive Sue Davidson said the money had already been tagged for projects around the district.
"There are no extras," she said.
She said the council did not aim to make a profit and would use the money to fund additional projects, which included an $100,000 upgrade of the Whangamomona campsite and a $50,000 contribution towards a planned makeover of Broadway.
In addition, planned work outlined in the district's LTP will also begin soon, including an improvement of Mangaehu Rd and an upgrade of the Toko water treatment plant.
"I think we should be really pleased to hold the rates increase at that and do that amount of work," Mayor Neil Volzke said.
Copies of the draft annual plan will be available for the public from March 12, with submissions to be made by April 17.
Public meetings about the plan will also be held in Stratford on March 27 and in Whangamomona on April 8.
A special policy committee hearing will be held to hear from submitters on May 6 with an intention to adopt the final plan by June 10.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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