Murky water surrounds figures for big rate rises facing many residents
By KIN Horowhenua correspondent Veronica Harrod
Horowhenua District Council has refused to answer a direct question on the expected financial impact on ratepayers if new water and waste water systems are installed in Waitarere, Hokio, Ohau, Manakau and Levin.
In response to a question asking for the impact in dollar terms, CEO David Clapperton replies, “Page 18 of the Consultation Document [2018-2038 Long Term Plan] explains the annual increase in rates for all households in the district currently connected to water.
“Within the new infrastructure settlements, rates would increase by more since they would begin to pay the Water Supply Targeted rate when they start to receive this service.”
The service is forecasted to be delivered between 2027 and 2036. Waitarere has a waste water system but no water system.
As if Mr Clapperton’s answer isn’t confusing enough, page 18 of the consultation document contains a table which includes the expected rates increases in each targeted area which gives the impression only the rate where the ratepayer lives will be applied.
All ratepayers likely to be hit
However, the consultation document also makes the statement, “This additional service would mean an increase…for ALL [emphasis mine] households in the Horowhenua District who are connected to water [and waste water] services.”
A resident living in one of the targeted areas said in a conversation she had with the council’s asset manager engineer Sarie Van der Walt, the LTP contact on infrastructure included in the consultation document, ratepayers would be charged all the rates increases in the targeted area; not just the rate increase for the area where they lived.
Combined the total amounts to an expected $646.70 annual increase in rates. But this is still less than half the amount councillor Christine Mitchell said rates are likely to increase in Waikawa Beach if new water and waste water systems are built.
No replies to queries to Cr
Cr Mitchell reportedly made the comment at the last Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association AGM in December 2017 which was included in the WBRA newsletter as a predicted $1500 annual increase. She has not responded to requests for comment.
The council has therefore been asked the same question again to provide dollar figures for the expected rates impact if council’s preferred option of installing new water and waste water systems is adopted by council.
If ALL ratepayers connected to water and waste water systems are affected, this could also impact ratepayers in all the other areas including Levin, Foxton, Foxton Beach, Tokomaru and Shannon.
Demand created by land developers
Existing ratepayers are concerned they are having to pay for a demand created by land developers who have not had to pay one cent towards essential infrastructure costs since council cancelled development contributions in 2015.
In answer to this inequity Mr Clapperton said, “Council will be looking at several options to assist with funding growth-related projects, Development Contributions being one of the options available.”
However, in the consultation document, Council says it won’t be considering the reintroduction of development contributions paid by land developers towards essential infrastructure until year 2019-2020.
Submissions on the consultation 20 year Long Term Plan close on March 26. The same day as consultations on the 2040 draft Growth Plan and Earthquake-prone buildings also close.