Waikato district general rates are to rise 6.5% for the 2021-22 year.
In the following two years the rates will rise by 3.5% – moves that come following the council’s adoption of its long term plan.
Waikato district mayor Allan Sanson said that the council’s rates – especially targeted rates for people who live in the district’s towns – are high by New Zealand standards.
There were valid reasons for that, he said.
“With the user-pays philosophy of our council, people who have direct access to services pay for them, and those who don’t, do not. Unlike some cities and districts with just one or two larger towns, our district has many small towns and a large rural community, so there is a limited number of homes and properties to spread the cost of some services. We might lack the benefits of scale, but we make up for it with our quality of life.”
Sanson acknowledged that any rate increases are hard to bear, especially for those on fixed or low incomes.
“This has been our most challenging LTP in my time here, and we have done our best to balance the need to keep costs down with the need to ensure the Waikato District is livable, thriving and connected.”
The Waikato District Council is responsible for $1.7 billion of assets.
The council believes it has worked hard to implement innovative ways to manage increasing infrastructure costs, including an alliance with Downers Roading, which enables repairs, upgrades and safety enhancements to be completed flexibly and quickly on a roading network that includes twice the length of sealed roads of most of its neighbouring councils.
The council has also partnered with Watercare Services and Iwi with the aim of delivering greater efficiencies in the delivery of drinking, storm water and wastewater services, while also meeting the rising standards demanded for consent renewals. These rising standards and new compliance costs had contributed to significant targeted rate increases for waters services in the district’s urban areas.