Storms costings in rates
One per cent of Whakatane’s 3.9 per cent average rates rise this year is being blamed on storm damage caused by cyclones Debbie and Cook in April, says Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne.
Previous draft budgets indicated an average rates increase of 2.96 per cent for the District in 2017/18, but with estimated unrecoverable costs relating to the storms adding more than $1 million to the annual plan budget, the likely average increase considered at last week’s extraordinary Whakatane District Council meeting had risen to 4.22 per cent, says Tony.
To bring the maximum average rates increase in line with the Council’s financial strategy limit of 3.9 per cent and address one-off impacts created by last year’s District revaluation on the rural sector and the Edgecumbe community in particular, councillors adopted a range of measures to bring costs down. These include:
• Using $50,000 from Edgecumbe’s stormwater operating reserves to reduce rates cost for all urban properties in the township;
• Using part of the Harbour Fund’s 2017/18 operating surplus to part-fund the cost of activities on harbour-owned land (including the Library and Exhibition Centre; Visitor Information Centre and parks, reserves and gardens), allowing the overall rating requirement to be reduced;
• Increasing the portion of total rates funded through the Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC) from 28 per cent to the maximum permitted, to partially offset the disproportionate impact of property value increases on rates for high value rural properties.
Tony says while the increase in average rates is regrettable, the community already has a “realistic expectation that last month’s storms would have an impact on costs”.
“The measures adopted to address rates costs are pragmatic and also help to reduce the financial impacts on Edgecumbe properties and on the farming sector.
“In addition, the postponement and remission of rates for all residential properties made uninhabitable due to flood-damage will help get the owners through the next few difficult months while their homes are repaired.”
Other additional costs included in the 2017/18 budget were $40,000 for tree management and inspections on the Ohope and Whakatane escarpments; and $100,000 to continue undertaking initial and detailed seismic assessments on Council assets.
Taking into account the various measures adopted by the Council, indicative rates costs calculations for District communities and sectors are: Whakatane Urban low value (capital value $155,000) properties, +4.4 per cent; Whakatane urban average (CV $355,000), +4.98 per cent; Whakatane urban high (CV $1.1 million), +4.48 per cent; Edgecumbe average (CV $295,000), +5.66 per cent (down from 8.16 per cent); Matata average (CV$293,000), -9.23 per cent; Matata high (CV $640,000), -11.81 per cent; Murupara urban (CV $61,000), +4.43 per cent; Murupara lifestyle (CV $205,000), +0.4 per cent; Te Teko (CV $111,000), -0.76 per cent; Otarawairere (CV $820,000), -1.19 per cent; Ohope low (CV $510,000) +6.28 per cent; Ohope average (CV $640,000), +5.26 per cent; Ohope high (CV $1.22 million), +6.8 per cent; Taneatua (CV $134,000), +3.76 per cent; Rural low (CV $58,000), +1.88 per cent; Rural average (CV $965,000), -0.71 per cent; and Rural high (CV $3.19 million), +15.05 per cent (down from 19.93 per cent).
Meanwhile, Whakatane commercial properties will see increases of between 8 and 10 per cent, depending on their capital value. The biggest influence on commercial rates is increased spending on District economic growth activities (including promotion and events).
The Council will make final rates decisions when it adopts the 2017/18 Annual Plan on June 22.