Rates: inflation hits

Waipā’s average rate increase will go up six per cent, but residential and commercial ratepayers will find themselves paying way more than that because the value of their properties are about to increase significantly.

It is in Cambridge where the real pain will be felt from July because house and building values have gone up far more than in the rest of the district.

The six per cent increase could have been worse.

Ken Morris

Before Christmas district councillors and staff had been looking at 12-13 per cent increases across the district’s 24,254 rateable properties.

Debate at this week’s Strategic Planning and Policy committee about the Annual Plan for 2023-24 was muted as many councillors opted to put questions to staff by email prior to the meeting.

Several times deputy chief executive Ken Morris referred to the questions and answers provided by email the night before.

The News requested the emails and the council provided them during the meeting. Here they are

Garry Dyet

Inflation and growing cost pressures have changed the climate which existed 21 months ago when Waipā adopted its Long Term Plan and estimated the rates increase for the 2023-24 financial year would be 3.7 per cent.

Not known yet is the impact new property revaluations, due next month, will have but Morris said his intelligence suggested property valuations would go up 50-60 per cent in Cambridge and 34-50 per cent in Te Awamutu. Farm values would not rise as much, he said.

Chief executive Garry Dyet said the revaluations would “change the incidences of rates radically.”

Roger Gordon

To “soften” that variance, the council will reduce uniform annual charges and to keep the rates at six per cent and chose not to support the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame at Cambridge Velodrome ($750,000), Waikato Screen’s request for $12,173 to help bring filmmakers to the district and $70,000 for a youth employment hub in Te Awamutu.

But councillors agreed to give the Cambridge Town Hall Trust $110,000 – payable as a targeted area rate by Cambridge ratepayers only – to reactivate the Town Hall’s community use.

New museums for Cambridge and Te Awamutu remain in the Long Term Plan but no activity is planned in the next financial year.

Councillor Roger Gordon said given the projected $27 million cost for Te Ara Wai museum in Te Awamutu, he wanted to see more visibility around design and ongoing costs. Staff also reassured him the $750,000 tagged for a new Cambridge museum remained in the Long Term Plan.

Jo Davies-Colley

Jo Davies-Colley

In a first, community board chairs Jo Davies-Colley (Cambridge) and Ange Holt (Te Awamutu-Kihikihi) sat in on the Annual Plan discussion.

Davies-Colley said the Cambridge board’s top priority was to see a new library-community hub. “Our current library isn’t fit for our growing town.”

Holt said when rates go up, the impact flows through.

“Our families are really struggling,” she said.

Ange Holt

The Te Awamutu Community House was handing out six to seven food parcels every day. She urged staff to look even closer suggesting there was no need to spend $400,000 on a Memorial Park playground “right now”.

Councillor Clare St Pierre said rate increases had been “swings and roundabouts” in the past. Several years ago, there was an increase in rural properties’ value.

“What I’m saying is we’ve seen this before and it hits our communities hard.”

Based on the average six per cent rise, a residential property in Cambridge valued at $960,000 would see a rate increase of $4.09 a week.  A residential property in Te Awamutu valued at $720,000 would see a rate increase of $2.48 a week.

But a rural property in the district, valued at $3,08 million would see a rates decrease of $8.69 per week.

Mike Pettit

The council unanimously supported the Annual Plan noting there did not need to be any consultation with the public because the plan contained no material or significant differences from what was included in year three of the Long Term Plan.

The last word went to Cambridge councillor Mike Pettit who remarked: “Cambridge will pay more because their capital value has gone up.”

See: Council settles on 6% rates rise – Waipa District Council Media Release


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