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Gisborne District Council approved a prudent budget when the 2011/2012 Annual Plan was adopted at its meeting today. “It is going to be very tight for managers to work with,” says chief executive Lindsay McKenzie. “There is no fat and there will be challenges responding to unplanned requests and events over the next twelve months. Significant cut-backs were made across all Council departments.”
“The cuts were made long before the Annual Plan went out for consultation in March. Council staff were asked to look for potential savings when we were first drafting budgets in November. To their credit savings were found across the board including a significant reduction in the cost of dealing with stormwater and providing water to households.”
Across the district Council will collect 3.5% more in rates from July. This is well below the predicted 8.1% increase signalled at the beginning of the annual planning process. The increase is below the expected inflation rate and below the much heralded new Auckland super city rate increase of 3.9%.
How the extra 3.5% in rates is collected will vary across the district.
“Collecting just 3.5% more in rates next year is an incredible result considering this is the first year we are paying for building and operating the new wastewater treatment plant,” says Mayor Meng Foon. “City ratepayers have been saving for the project which has been a big help. Good project management and lower than expected operating costs have saved $1m so we haven’t had to borrow as much. Overall Council debt is down and this reduces the amount we pay in interest.”
A further budgeting challenge was absorbing reduced income from parking and Council owned businesses Gisborne Vehicle Testing and Waikanae Holiday Park. “People should remember that any money spent with these businesses helps to keep rates down.”
Residents who want to see how their rates bill will be affected by this year's Annual Plan should go to the rates comparison tool available on Council’s website. People can compare the rates they are paying now with the new rates for their property.