By Robyn Bristow
The Hurunui District Council is proposing an average rate increase of 10.5 percent for the 2022-2023 financial year, more than double the increase indicated in the council’s 2021 – 2023 Long Term Plan (LTP).
Mayor Marie Black says the decision is necessary to ensure service delivery is maintained.
Council carefully scrutinised operational and project costs before agreeing to the proposed 10.5% increase, she says, and the decision was not made lightly.
The economic climate had significantly superseded the inflation rates council had allowed for in its LTP – a 2.82% increase in operating expenditure and 3.01% in capital expenditure.
“But financial trends like this make up part of the picture of the Current Consumer Price Index of 6.9%, and cannot be absorbed in the account books.”
Council has recently renewed its roading contract, and after seven years since the last contract was entered into, there had been a budget increase of 30%.
“This is an economic trend council predicts will be long term, so it is unattainable to cut roading services from the 2022-23 budget.”
Mrs Black says roading is an essential part of council service delivery, and it remains vitally important for councillors and council officers to continue the investment in this area.
“We want to meet the community expectations of safe roads for everyone.”
She said LTP budgets were prepared on a range of assumptions, particularly relating to inflation and interest rates, both of which did have a level of uncertainty.
Inflation was reflected in many forms, from the cost of fuel and groceries to the cost of materials for water supplies and infrastructure, and the operating costs of key services such as public toilets, she says.
“Staffing costs and interest costs have also increased.”
Mrs Black says council has also faced a difficult trading year for Hanmer Springs Thermal Pool & Spa due to the full lockdown in August 2021, and continual restrictions until the country moved out of the Red Traffic Light setting early in April 2022.
“The forecast for the current year has been pulled back to reflect this.”
There will be opportunities for ratepayers of Hurunui District to provide feedback on the proposed rates increase.
Further detail on the Draft Annual Plan and Community Engagement opportunities will be announced from next Monday.
All comments should arrive no later than 5pm on Monday, June 6.