Additional costs relating to flooding and storm damage caused by cyclones Debbie and Cook last month will add close to 1% to rates costs across the Whakatāne District for the 2017/18 year, taking the average increase to 3.9%.
Previous draft budgets had indicated an average rates increase of 2.96% for the District in 2017/18, but with estimated unrecoverable costs relating to the storm events adding more than $1 million to the annual plan budget, the likely average increase considered at last week’s extraordinary Whakatāne District Council meeting had risen to 4.22%.
To bring the maximum average rates increase into line with the Council’s financial strategy limit of 3.9%; and address one-off impacts created by last year’s District revaluation on the rural sector and the Edgecumbe community in particular, Council elected members adopted a range of measures to bring costs down. These included:
- Utilising $50,000 from Edgecumbe’s stormwater operating reserves to reduce rates cost for all urban properties in the township;
- Utilising part of the Harbour Fund’s 2017/18 operating surplus to part-fund the cost of activities on harbour-owned land (including the Library and Exhibition Centre; Visitor Information Centre and parks, reserves and gardens), allowing the overall rating requirement to be reduced;
- Increasing the portion of total rates funded through the Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC) from 28% to 30% (the maximum allowed), to partially offset the disproportionate impact of property value increases on rates for high value rural properties.
Mayor Tony Bonne said that while the increase in average rates was regrettable, the community already had a “realistic expectation that last month’s storms would have an impact on costs”.
“The measures adopted to address rates costs are pragmatic and also help to reduce the financial impacts on Edgecumbe properties and on the farming sector,” he said. “In addition, the postponement and remission of rates for all residential properties made uninhabitable due to flood-damage will help get the owners through the next few difficult months while their homes are repaired.”
Other additional costs included in the 2017/18 budget were $40,000 for tree management and inspections on the Ōhope and Whakatāne escarpments; and $100,000 to continue undertaking initial and detailed seismic assessments on Council assets.
Taking into account the various measures adopted by the Council, indicative rates costs calculations for District communities and sectors are: Whakatāne Urban low value (capital value $155,000) properties, +4.4%; Whakatāne urban average (CV $355,000), +4.98%; Whakatāne urban high (CV $1.1 million), +4.48%; Edgecumbe average (CV $295,000), +5.66% (down from 8.16%); Matatā average (CV$293,000), -9.23%; Matatā high (CV $640,000), -11.81%; Murupara urban (CV $61,000), +4.43%; Murupara lifestyle (CV $205,000), +0.4%; Te Teko (CV $111,000), -0.76%; Ōtarawairere (CV $820,000), -1.19%; Ōhope low (CV $510,000) +6.28%; Ōhope average (CV $640,000), +5.26%; Ōhope high (CV $1.22 million), +6.8%; Tāneatua (CV $134,000), +3.76%; Rural low (CV $58,000), +1.88%; Rural average (CV $965,000), -0.71%; and Rural high (CV $3.19 million), +15.05% (down from 19.93%).
Meanwhile, Whakatāne commercial properties will see increases of between 8 and 10%, depending on their capital value. The biggest influence on commercial rates is increased spending on District economic growth activities (including promotion and events).
The Council will make final rates decisions when it adopts the 2017/18 Annual Plan on 22 June.