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Ratepayers are being asked whether they’ll help fund initiatives designed to grow the region’s economy, improve its water quality and better manage mangroves and sediment as Northland Regional Councillors look to set rates for the year.
Depending on the public’s answers, the Regional Council says its overall general rates revenue – excluding targeted river rates - could increase anywhere from a low of 3.3 percent up to 12.39 percent in the upcoming 2010/11 financial year. (The proposed increases could add anywhere from about $4.70 to $18.15 to the average annual rates bill.)
Proposals for a Regional Growth Programme and the water quality initiatives are just two of a raft of measures spelt out in the Council’s Draft Annual Plan 2010-2011.
The roughly 130-page Draft – which sets out the direction the Regional Council intends to take over the 12 months from 1 July – was approved by Councillors yesterday (subs: Weds 17 March) and will be publicly notified on Saturday 10 April. The public will then have a month - until 3pm Monday 10 May - to comment.
Regional Council Chairman Mark Farnsworth says the Draft Annual Plan largely follows a path set out last year when the Council adopted its Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP) for 2009-2019.
However, while the newly-approved Draft does contain several new initiatives, it indicates total operational spending of $24.5 million for the year, about $400,000 less than forecast for 2010-2011 in last year’s LTCCP.
“In setting our proposed budgets for the coming year, Councillors have taken into account the fact Northland is still emerging from a recession and that money remains tight for many people.”
He says with that in mind, the Draft Annual Plan essentially proposes a sliding scale of possible general rates increases.
At the lower end, a 3.3% general rates increase would add around $4.70 (incl GST) annually to the average rates bill and generate an extra roughly $400,000 to cover inflationary increases and minor adjustments across Council activities.
At the upper end, the average yearly rates bill would increase by about $18.15 – increasing the Council’s rates take by about $1.5M - and would pay for initiatives including:
“However, the final rates increase adopted by Council will effectively depend on submissions made during upcoming public consultation on the Draft Annual Plan and which – if any – of several proposed initiatives the community supports.”
Mr Farnsworth says even if the public supports the larger increase, NRC rates will remain low compared to their District counterparts.
“As proposed, someone in the Kaipara District whose property has a land value of $200,000 would pay $124.52 in Regional Council rates for the year, while someone in the Far North would pay $135.35. In the Whangarei District the annual rates bill would be $170.80 because they already pay a higher regional recreational rate and a transport rate to help fund the public bus service.”
Mr Farnsworth says the Council intends to distribute more than 60,000 copies of a roughly 12-page summary of its Draft Plan – complete with a submission form – to homes throughout the region in April to coincide with the start of the consultation.
Several hundred copies of the full Draft Plan will also be sent out to interested parties and will also be available from April 10 on CD, from all Council offices or via the Council’s website www.nrc.govt.nz/draftannualplan