Oldies will suffer if Horo Council ups rates for water/wastewater
By Veronica Harrod, Horowhenua Correspondent
Hundreds of existing residents will be superannuitants by the time Horowhenua District Council introduces proposed average rates increases of $2000 annually in five areas targeted for new water and wastewater systems.
The council’s preferred option , included in the consultation 20 year Long Term Plan (LTP), to install new essential infrastructure in Waitarere, Hokio, Ohau, Manakau and Waikawa due to projected land and property development will hit ratepayers hard in the pocket between the years 2027 and 2036.
If council votes in favour of this option, ratepayers born between 1962 and 1971 who own property in the five areas targeted for new water and waste water systems will face massive rates increases when they are arguably least able to absorb them.
Average rises of $85 per week
The projected annual increases equate to an average minimum of $85 a week.
Council’s intention to hit the elderly, those on low and fixed wages, and the farming business community in the targeted areas, appears to be a deliberate
strategy designed to free up more land for land and property development.
Deliberate because residents unable to afford the rates rises will be potentially forced to move from communities many have lived in their entire lives, including Maori with links to the
land through whakapapa.
Presently all the targeted areas are serviced by a mix of water tanks, bore water and septic tanks.
Many people say they prefer this to being connected to a council reticulated service that primarily benefits property developers selling new builds in the targeted areas.
Waitarere the only exception
Waitarere is the only exception with an existing waste water system but even this will not save residents there from predicted average rates bill of $3376 annually from 2033.
The table supplied by the council only includes projected increases in water and waste water supply charges which will affect all residents in the district.
General and other targeted rates have pushed the actual increased rates bill even higher. The areas least impacted by projected rates rises are urban businesses and urban residential that will see average rates increases of $500 annually.
In a section on crunching the numbers council states, “To reduce the need to borrow we intend to progressively pay for more asset renewals from rates and operating surpluses, with loans being used to fund capital expenditure.”
Despite a council resolution passed at a November 27 council meeting last year, “That in light of the District’s current and potential growth, discussion on the reintroduction of Development and/or Financial Contributions commences through the Strategy Committee at its December 2017 meeting” no discussion took place because the 20 December 2017 strategy council meeting was cancelled, “due to a lack of business” stated the council website.
Development contributions off the horizon?
Most council’s collect development contributions from land developers towards essential infrastructure costs. But HDC is strongly indicating in its LTP consultation document a preference to continue charging ratepayers and to increase debt levels to fund infrastructure — costs mainly created by land and property development.
Not only is the council resolution to discuss the reintroduction of development contributions soon being ignored, but Council also states in the LTP that any intention to reintroduce development contributions will not take place until 2019-2020 after the next local body elections.