29 August 2012
Waipa District Council will look to achieve $800,000 of rates savings in the next Annual Plan, and review the discretionary items in its 10-Year Plan, as it seeks to limit rates increases.
The decision has come on the back of the presentation of a petition at today’s council meeting calling for “a rates freeze or rates reduction to help ease the burden on ratepayers.”
However, the decisions also come with a warning that levels of service may be cut if the community wants the council to reduce its spending “at all costs” and some hard decisions will need to be made.
Mayor Alan Livingston said the council had instructed chief executive Garry Dyet to investigate and report on options for making the $800,000 savings.
That would equate to about a two per cent reduction on the proposed rates increase for the 2013/2014 year, indicated in the 10-Year Plan as 4.7 per cent.
Mr Livingston said a report was necessary as the council had saved around $4 million in operating costs in the 2010 year and reduced the amount of rates it required this year from $42.2 million in the draft 10-Year-Plan 2012-22 to $41.9 million when the plan was adopted. This was $2.7 million less than what had been signaled in the previous 2009-19 Long Term Plan.
“We appreciate that any rates increases are tough for some ratepayers. We have already done a lot of work to ensure we are running a tight ship, so we need to make sure that any negative impacts are completely taken into account before any further decisions are made,” he said.
“It may well be that we will need to review our levels of service in which case we will be relying on the community to tell us what they are prepared to sacrifice. To date residents have clearly signalled that they wanted existing high levels of service maintained.”
There would also be an investigation and a report prepared on discretionary expenditure items in the 10-Year Plan and the implications associated with reducing or removing projects, if any.
“We have heard that people want us to reduce spending and for the focus to be on our core infrastructure rather than the ‘nice-to-haves’. The reality is that, of the $409 million we plan to spend on capital projects in the next 10 years, 71 per cent is on core services like roading, water and wastewater. Only 14 per cent is discretionary with three per cent of that expected to be funded from external sources,” Mr Livingston said.
“The remaining 15 per cent is compliance costs, mainly in relation to core services, to ensure we are meeting legislative requirements. That is a challenge for all councils around New Zealand.”
Once prepared both reports will be presented to the Finance and Corporate Committee before consideration by the full council.
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