Rotorua council proposing lowest rates increase in recent history



30 March 2013

Rotorua District Council is signalling its lowest rates rise in recent history in its 2013/14 draft Annual Plan, which was adopted for public consultation at a special council meeting this week. 

The total increase in the amount of rates to be collected in the next financial year would be just 0.99 per cent if the draft Annual Plan is adopted in June after public submissions have been considered. 

That increase is a reduction on the 3.5 per cent increase signalled for 2013/14 in the council’s ten year Long-term Plan adopted last year, and less than inflation forecast of one to two per cent next year.

The draft plan is to be released to the public on Wednesday [3 April] for a one month period of community consultation, with submissions closing on 3 May.

Mayor Kevin Winters said a rates increase under one per cent would mean Rotorua could claim one of the lowest, if not the lowest, rates increases in the country. He said it would mean Rotorua District Council will have achieved an average annual increase of less than two per cent over the last five years, below prevailing inflation rates. 

He said the overall 0.99 per cent rates increase would impact in varying ways on different sectors, with the business sector receiving an average decrease of 0.9 per cent, and increases for the rural residential sector of 1.7 per cent, 1.28 per cent for urban residential and 2.4 per cent for farming.

“The important consideration for the council in again keeping the rates increase to a very low level is that we will still be able to invest in programmes that help stimulate our local economy and protect our environment, and we are equally determined we won’t have to  cut services that we provide to our community.

“It’s a very bold challenge we’re setting for our staff to meet. But with a line-by-line review of every budget item, efficiency gains from our Lean Thinking business improvement programme and more belt-tightening across the board, we believe it is achievable.

The draft Annual Plan sets out the programmes, services and projects which the council intends undertaking in the next financial year, which kicks off on 1 July 2013. It includes detailed budgets and funding sources for all activities as required under local government legislation.

Mr Winters said the draft Annual Plan focuses on reinforcing the three key themes established in last year’s Long-term Plan – economic prosperity, environmental improvement and continuous business improvement.

“Improving the performance of our local economy will be a particular priority of activities in the coming year with considerable focus on domestic and international tourism marketing, business and investment attraction, the final phases of developing a new District Plan and revitalisation of our CBD.

CBD proposals include making on-street parking free in the city and removing  parking meters, new high quality public restrooms at City Focus and bringing more customer and visitor services into the inner city. Those additional services would include a council customer centre, i-Site visitor centre, event ticketing outlet, more CBD events and a centralised base alongside City Focus for City Services staff, City Safe Guardians, parking wardens and the council’s inner city cleaning and maintenance team.

Environmental activities would include development of more sewerage schemes for lakeside communities and construction of a full scale waste treatment plant using the world-first TERAX technology developed by Scion in partnership with the council. Participation in the $200 million Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme would also continue with partners Te Arawa Lakes Trust and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

“The next phase is for our community to tell us which proposals in our draft Annual Plan they support and which items they want changed,” said Mr Winters. “We will also give people the chance to come along to public hearings to talk directly to me and our councillors about their submissions. Nothing yet is set in stone, so I urge people to use this process to give us feedback on the draft plan.”

Copies of the draft Annual Plan 2013/14 will be available for inspection from Wednesday [3 April] at the council Civic Centre, District Library and City Focus. Submission forms and summaries of the draft can be collected from those locations.

The full plan will also be available online from Wednesday from the council website and submissions will be able to be completed and sent online.

Submissions close at 4pm on Friday 3 May 2013.

Page reviewed: 30 Mar 2013 10:00am