Will Horowhenua Developers Ever Pay Their full Share?

Levin, heart of the Horowhenua, where developers have a free pass

Veronica Harrod says development contributions can now be collected from developers for public amenities as well as essential infrastructure after the Government passed the Local Government Amendment Bill last week.

But the big political question for Horowhenua is whether local politicians will bring back this contribution to the public good — and brave developers’ opposition.

The general purpose of development contributions is to recover the costs of growth-related capital expenditures directly from land and property developers, rather than from general ratepayers or other sources, such as loans.

Horowhenua Council favours the developers

Last November Horowhenua District Council reaffirmed its decision not to reintroduce development contributions cancelled in 2015 on the cusp of an explosion of land and property development in Horowhenua.

After the decision was made group manager corporate services Mark Lester said proposed Government changes to the development contributions regime, “create an uncertain policy environment for making changes to Council’s Revenue and Financing Policy.”

“Council officers will monitor developments at a national level as they relate to the funding of infrastructure,” he said.

The amended bill reinstates four aspects of community well-being – social, environmental, economic, and cultural – into the Local Government Act that were removed by the former National Party-led government in 2012.

Long-term plan puts onus on ratepayers

The 20 year Long Term Plan (2018-2038) states an intention, “to progressively pay for more asset renewals from rates and operating surpluses.”

The Council has not had any operating surpluses since 2012-2013 and doesn’t forecast any surpluses until 2021-2022, debt levels have sky-rocketed to $100 million or $3000 per resident and ratepayers continue to be stung by general rates increases of between 5 and 7 percent year on year.

This year the Council is considering a Capital Value rating system and ratepayers also face approximately $2000 plus increases in annual rates within the next ten years to pay for the construction of water and waste water plants in “new growth” rural residential areas including Ohau, Waitarere and Manakau.

Veronica Harrod concludes: The question that needs to be asked of all candidates in the coming local body elections is — ‘Do you support the reintroduction of development contributions?’

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