Overall rates increase of 9.4 % expected

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Ashburton District Council is planning to defer some projects, but the district’s next overall rates increase is still expected to be 9.4 per cent.

After a series of workshops over the past month to discuss budget challenges because of Covid-19 and inflation, a draft plan now shows council will need to collect $44.265 million in rates across the district, compared to $40m collected this financial year.

Ashburton District mayor Neil Brown said the overall rates increase was about 9.4 per cent, but would vary across the district depending on where ratepayers lived and how much their properties had been affected by recent government revaluations.

“We’ve spent a lot of time discussing how we can fund the things our ratepayers want and expect when the cost of doing business has risen so dramatically because of supply chain issues and inflation.

‘‘The Annual Plan will be a no-frills plan about spending on projects we have to do, while
maintaining day-to-day services.”

Council will consider approving the draft Annual Plan at its April 6 meeting, and because it is different from what was proposed in the Long Term Plan, council will also be consulting with the community from April 7 until May 6 and will finalise it the following month.

Mr Brown said council was committed to getting feedback from the community and hearing people’s views.

“We also want to talk about how we arrived at these figures and we will be holding several meetings across the district.
“A complicating factor this year has been the three-yearly revaluation of properties, which will affect urban ratepayers more as the value of their homes has risen more so than rural properties.”

As well as deferring the revamp of Balmoral Hall, council is also proposing to defer building a new access road to the Ashburton Domain.

Mr Brown said council had heard residents’ concerns about roading and planned to use $2m from reserves to boost maintenance and improvements on the sealed and unsealed network.