Have your say on council rates and spending
Western Bay district council’s draft annual plan is out for public feedback this month, with a proposed 7.41 percent average rates increase.
This is the first full budget consultation for a couple of years, due to the fact that the council has put forward a proposed rates increase above its previous upper limit of 4 percent a year, including inflation.
The council is facing rapidly rising costs, most notably in the construction area where projects are now 15-20 percent more expensive than budgeted a year ago.
We have had many discussions around the council table about the cost-of-living crisis and its impact on our residents and the need for restraint with rates increases.
Council staff have done a lot of trimming in costs to get the increase to where it was, with projects either downsized or delayed. Staff are also very good at getting hold of external funding to benefit our district (eg the Omokoroa roundabout and new elderly housing for Katikati).
However, some projects that are going ahead are costing more (eg the roof on the Katikati pool) and we have been hit by a $960,000 bill to improve our water supply due to new requirements from the water regulator, Taumata Arowai.
Some councillors pushed for a smaller increase in rates this year but we did not get the numbers around the table for that. An example was our push for lower rates at the February annual plan committee meeting (minutes are here and video is here)
Trust me, I have not given up my election policy of lower rates. Nothing I have seen so far shows this is either impossible or undesirable for our district.
Note that the median increase for residential ratepayers this year is 4.5%, so just above the limit in the council's longterm plan (see picture below). However, a district-wide property revaluation is due out shortly so that will likely change. This is because different types of property will likely increase in value by differing amounts.
So how can you have your say? The deadline for feedback is 5pm on Sunday, 30 April.
1) The documents are uploaded onto the council website, along with a survey form at: https://haveyoursay.westernbay.govt.nz/annualplan
2) You can email your views to: firstname.lastname@example.org
3) There are some community drop-in sessions where you can learn more about the annual plan and pass on your views:
- Te Puna: Clarke Road Kitchen, 7 Clarke Road, Wednesday, April 19, 9-11 am
- Waihi Beach: Flat White Café, 21 Shaw Road, Friday, April 21, 9-11am
4) Our two western community boards have arranged surveys for residents to give feedback to the boards for inclusion in their submissions on the annual plan:
- Waihi Beach: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FQCKYYL
- Katikati Community Board: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LFTXXKK
Note that the community board surveys are feeding into their submissions. You can make a submission on your own as well.