Wellington Scoop

Too high? 5.7 per cent rates increase planned for Kāpiti Coast residents

Press Release – Kapiti District Council
The Kāpiti Coast District Council today agreed on the contents of the annual plan for 2017/18, which will result in an average rates increase of 5.7%.

The Council’s annual plan 2017/18 is the plan for the third year of our FutureKāpiti Long term plan 2015-35. Community consultation in April sought feedback on proposed changes to the work programme for this year from what was set out in the long term plan along with input on local and regional actions in the draft Wellington region Waste Management and Minimisation Plan.

Over 130 people provided submissions on the annual plan or regional waste plan.

Mayor K Gurunathan said councillors heard the strong views of a number of members of the community who thought the proposed 5.9% rates increase was too high. There were also some submissions that supported the Council’s direction and a number that included requests for grants and additional projects and activities.

“The reduced 5.7% average rates increase is the result of a number of adjustments including additional income projected from the higher volume of building consents we’re expecting and reduced interest costs due to work on assets being carried out later.

“The total cost of requests considered for grants and additional work would have added significantly to the rates increase for the coming year. Some requests will be referred to existing grants available through the Council while many others will be considered through the long term plan process, which is currently in its early stages. Actions requested in other submissions have been able to be accommodated within existing budgets.

“We’re very aware that for many people the rates increase is still too high. Without the benefit of alternative income streams Kāpiti must look to ratepayers for around three quarters of its income. This means that, despite an operating efficiency that compares very well with other councils, our rates are not as low as we would like.”

Mayor Gurunathan said the vast majority of the rates increase is largely unavoidable, with the funding of depreciation, inflation and interest accounting for 4.5% and new compliance costs adding a further 0.2%, leaving a very narrow margin in which to accommodate any other initiatives.

“I’ve been asked a lot about depreciation in recent weeks. Including depreciation in our operating expenses is the way that we ensure ratepayers pay their fair share, and only their fair share, of the assets they use and benefit from – it ensures intergenerational equity.

“We are currently in the process of making up for years when we didn’t allocate funds to fully cover the use of assets during their lifetime. Our long term plan sets out a path to fully fund depreciation by 2021/22. It’s challenging, but shying away from our catch-up plan will mean taking longer to get to where we want to be and, ultimately, a higher cost overall.

“We’re keenly aware that affordability is an issue for many in our district, and we’ve worked hard to keep the proposed rates increase as low as possible.

“We’ve been working to remind people about our rates/water rates remission policy and government rates rebates, which continue to be available for those on low incomes or facing extreme hardship. We encourage people in need to make full use of these options.”

Background information:
While annual plans are a chance to review the Council’s activities for the year ahead, the broader direction of the Council’s work and vision are set out in long term plans, which are done every three years.

The next Kāpiti Coast District Council long term plan will be in place mid-2018. In the coming weeks the Council will be inviting input from Kāpiti folk on what’s important to them, to help guide work on the plan. The Council will invite feedback on the full draft plan as part of formal consultation in early 2018.

The Council has approved the following as part of the 2017/18 annual plan:
• Additional resourcing of economic development activities
• Funding and resources for meeting legislative requirements of the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity
• Reprioritising of stormwater works to improve resilience and funding to meet additional resource consent conditions
• Establishment of a contingency fund that will build over time to cover costs such as insurance excess payments, should a major disaster occur
• Development of a new link walkway in Paekākāriki to the beginning of theTe Araroa Trail Escarpment Track
• Makarini Street enhancement and community events
• Renewal plan for Waikanae Beach Hall enhancements
• Minor upgrade to the Ōtaki pool changing rooms and installation of a community BBQ in Haruatai Park
• Reduction of service levels for rural berm mowing (four times per year) and kerbside sweeping (three times per year).

All those that made submissions on the annual plan will receive a response from the Council in the coming weeks.

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