The Kāpiti District Council has decided to hike rates by 2.6 per cent in the year ahead.
Mayor K Gurunathan has tried to soften the news by saying:
“This is down from the 5.7 per cent for the 2020/21 financial year that Council was considering prior to the Alert Level 4 lockdown.”
He says the increase is required to allow the Council to progress projects and meet cost pressures.
These include the growth and maintenance of various networks — roading, footpath and cycleway, walkway and bridleways.
The rates also cover increased regulation and reporting on drinking water safety, and the need to progress the coastal adaptation programme.
Guru says the rise strike the right balance
The Mayor says the proposed 2020/21 Annual Plan agreed by Council yesterday strikes a balance between ensuring the Council can deliver infrastructure and services and support the community to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19, while operating within its financial means.
“We acknowledge that many people and businesses in our community are struggling at this time and will be worried about the future. In the face of uncertainty, our Council is no different,” Mayor Gurunathan says.
Council realises people are struggling
“Over the past few weeks’ staff and Councillors have worked hard to reshape our Annual Plan in response to the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19.
“The result of this is an average rates increase of 2.6 per cent for the year ahead, an average weekly increase per rates bill of $1.65.”
The Council says it is funding the annual plan by a mix of increased rates, reduced capital spending and reduced debt repayment.
It will also allow the Council to continue to play its part in the COVID-19 response.
‘We can’t kick the can down the street’ — Mayor
“I know some in the community would have preferred to see a lower or zero per cent rates increase but to do that would essentially only kick the can down the road to playing catch-up in future years,” Mayor Gurunathan says.
“We’ve had to make some difficult decisions, along with all other councils in New Zealand, and have moved to keep the rates as low as possible.
“But we have issues we know we need to continue to address and others that are yet to make themselves known.
“To defer these kinds of projects or borrow more to fund them would only serve to make our recovery more difficult, as would cutting services many in our community rely on.”
Support package for needy
Mayor Gurunathan says that for those in need of support the Council has set up a support package and will continue to find ways to save money.
“I would like to thank the people of Kāpiti for their efforts during the alert level 4 and 3 lockdowns, it has been a huge sacrifice for everybody.
“As a Council we are committed to playing our part to make sure everybody comes out of this situation in the best way possible.”
Detailed information on the 2020/21 Annual Plan will be available soon.
Feedback can be given until 29 May 2020 and Council will be making a final decision on the annual plan and any potential options to further reduce rates on 25 June.