Wellington Scoop
Network

Martinborough resident complains about 36.6 per cent rates increase

Report from LDR
After some ratepayers across Wairarapa’s districts have reported rates increases of more than 30 per cent, there’ve been calls for councils to explain why the rates rises are way over the average figures that were announced after signing off long-term plans.

Councils have placed the blame on land valuations and regional council rate hikes. They have also cited internal reviews and national reforms as a panacea to rising bills.

Each council announced proposed rises in their long term plan consultation documents.

Martinborough resident Daphne Geisler called her South Wairarapa District Council rates charges “whopping”. The rural ratepayer said her bill had risen by 36.6 per cent, and a neighbour’s by 40 per cent.

She said rates for a friend, owning an urban property of $340,000 land value, had increased 24 per cent.

An SWDC media release sent after its long term plan was passed had detailed “a 14.28 per cent rate increase for urban ratepayers based on a $350,000 land value”.

“As the increases are all online, I did a few calculations and didn’t find any less than 24 per cent. Most properties had an increase in valuation in September 2020.

“So how is the allocation different from last year? And given the rates were agreed upon in June 2021, all valuations would have been known.

“I believe in fairness, but who had rate decreases to make up the average of 14 per cent urban and nine per cent rural to justify our whopping 35 per cent increases?”

Mayor Alex Beijen said that increases were needed to fund “required activities” in the long term plan.

“As we run a Land Value rating system, the value of the land is our basis for rates. As everyone is aware, we have had massive changes in values across the district since the last Government Valuations.

“If your land value has increased in comparison with other property owners, the resulting rating share will increase relative to others. It will decrease for an equivalent number of residents.”

He said this was “particularly harsh” on lifestyle blocks and larger sections.

“If all land had increased evenly, there would not be any increase to anyone except the stated increase Unfortunately, we cannot control or influence the increases in valuation of properties by the government.”

He said SWDC would look at the rating system and aimed to launch a review this year “to attempt to even out these external shocks to ratepayers”.

In Carterton, the council [CDC] announced a 5.8 per cent average rise after passing its 10-year-plan in June. The district, which came top of the Taxpayers Union’s last two Ratepayers Review charts for highest average rates in the country, sent out its first-quarter bills earlier this month.

Much like its southern neighbour, residents took to social media to express concerns over a further bump.

Speaking at CDC’s last meeting, Deputy Mayor Rebecca Vergunst said the council needed to be prudent with money while also working towards progress.

“We need to make sure that every dollar we are spending is an investment in our community, and we have tangible returns from that. I think elected members across New Zealand would say our rating systems are broken and unsustainable.”

She reiterated that concern on a Facebook post this week.

“This review is underway with the Future for Local Government Panel but will take time. In terms of setting budgets, I believe CDC is actually very reasonable. We are one of the smallest councils and ratepayer bases in NZ, but we still manage to have one of the lowest operating expenses per household in the country.”

Masterton’s average rise in urban residential rates is 4.8 per cent for 2021/22. The average rise in rural rates is 8.1 per cent. This comes after LTP consultation dominated by plans for the civic centre and the future of the unused town hall buildings.

Council spokesperson Matt Boulton outlined a few key reasons why the rates may exceed that level, including the new valuations.

“In general, commercial property increases were below the average, and residential properties were above the average. That change will see the proportion of total rates paid by residential properties increase and commercial properties decrease. If a property’s valuation increased by less than 43 per cent, then the rates increase will be less than 4.8 per cent. If the valuation increased by more than 43 per cent, then the rates increase will be greater than 4.8 per cent.

“Many residential properties have had valuation increases of over 50 per cent which will result in rates increases of more than 10 per cent.

“This also applies to rural properties, with the exception that the average capital value increase is 37 per cent, meaning an 81 per cent average rates increase.”

Boulton said rises in Wellington Regional Council rates for Masterton also boosted the bills. The regional council collects rates via district councils.

Masterton ratepayers saw that portion rise by an average of 31 per cent. This added about two per cent to the total MDC rates bill.

The regional council’s average annual rates increase across all its districts is 12.95 per cent.

3 comments:

  1. Concerned Wellingtonian, 22. July 2021, 17:22

    I fully expect that the Wellington City Council will keep to the promised increase of “only” 13.5%. They have made special efforts to use borrowings instead of rates to fund the $200,000,000 which the Audit Office said was missing from the Housing budget.

     
  2. Ray Chung, 22. July 2021, 20:19

    Hi Concerned Wellingtonian, that’s wishful thinking! The WCC has already said they’ll have a “surcharge” to pay for a sewage treatment system that’ll go on top of this 13.5% to take it to 15.9%. The Housing budget is still out there with councillors looking for the money tree!

     
  3. Super Farm Man, 23. July 2021, 22:09

    Not just Martinborough… I’ve heard of 38+% in other parts of the Wairarapa. Ours was 15% and we’re rural. Huge increases. It’ll hurt a lot of people. [via twitter]