Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Tasman District Council sets rates for the 2022/2023 year.  

Tasman District Council adopts Annual Plan for 2022/2023 but keeps rates below the inflation rate.

Tasman District Council. Photo R Therkleson

Tasman District Council has adopted its Annual Plan for the 2022/2023 year, enabling rates to be set for the 2022/2023 year.  

The Annual Plan was adopted by Council at its meeting on June 23, 2022. The plan outlines the projects and services for the year ahead.

There were 51 submissions made in relation to the draft plan during the public consultation period. Councillors reviewed the submissions during deliberations in May.  The majority of submissions indicated a preference for lower rates.   

The Council has had a hard look at its expenditure and has keep the rate increase to below inflation which is a hard ask in this economic environment.

Acting Chief Executive Leonie Rae said in preparing this Annual Plan, “we have been acutely aware of the need to keep costs down. However, we have no choice but to deliver the services that are needed with a determined effort to play our part in supporting a healthy and thriving community.” 

“Through feedback from submissions and new information emerging since the draft Annual Plan was consulted on, several changes have occurred.” 

After further cost savings, the final rates income increase is 5.05%. This is lower than the 5.51% increase signalled in Option 2 in the consultation document. 

This reduction is the result of the Council’s decision to assume funding $500,000 of the additional costs of implementing the Water Services Act 2021 through the Government’s ‘Better Off Funding’.  

Further efforts to offset increases have been made through; 

  • Reductions in the budgets for consultancy 
  • Lower budgets for maintenance and operations 
  • Higher forecast revenue from fees and charges 
  • Deferral of projects in the capital programme 
  • Deferral of $2 million of the digital innovation work 

The rates revenue increase of 5.05% is above the cap of 4.5%, which was adopted by the Council in its Financial Strategy in June 2021. 

There have been changes Council’s wider operating environment since the Financial Strategy was adopted which has seen the Council face several unanticipated and largely unavoidable cost increases. 

These include maintaining our insurance cover, complying with the Water Services Act 2021,  funding existing cost overruns in the Waimea Community Dam as well as attracting and retaining staff in a competitive labour market. 

It is anticipated that the rates increase cap levels in the Financial Strategy will be reconsidered as part of the LTP 2024-2034 process. 

Changes to the schedule of fees and charges were also adopted today as part of the Annual Plan meeting.

The new fees and charges will apply from 1 July 2022. 

Key changes included the removal of the Library Adult Member Overdue Charges, although waste charges at Tasman Resource Recovery Centres will be increasing by 20 per cent. 

Any increases were mostly inflation adjusted to recover costs and reduce the amount of general rate funding needed to offset any shortfall. 

 As well as continuing to provide essential services and infrastructure, the Annual Plan budget has included a number of new social and environmental projects for 2022/2023. These include; 

  • Taking advantage of Waka Kotahi funding to improve walking and cycling infrastructure 
  • Making improvements to Port Tarakohe 
  • Getting an early start on the Motueka Catchment Management Plan 
  • Funding for community organisations 

New information about the Waimea Community Dam from Waimea Water Limited has advised an increase in the estimated cost to complete is the dam to $195m.  

However, the estimated cost increase and a project delay until next summer does not impact the adoption of the Annual Plan. 

Leonie said  the additional costs estimate and funding has not yet been determined so it would be premature to try and include in the Annual Plan budget already set.  

Instead, the true impact will be considered in the 2023/24 annual plan. 

“It’s important that the Annual Plan budget is adopted so council has the funds to operate from 1 July.”

It is a credit to Tasman District Council in keeping the rates below the rate of inflation. Ratepayers must be pleased about that fact. 

The Council has taken on a Major Project with the Waimea Community Dam when unfortunately Covid has hit right in the middle of the build, when materials are hard to obtain and workers have been sick. Some of the increase in expenditure on the Dam has been out of their control.

Although my rates are going up, keeping the rates below the inflation rate, for me, is a positive.

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