A LOWER rates increase by Environment Southland (ES) may not align with community expectations but was a compromise between “wanting everything” and ” too much pain”.
At the ES council meeting on Tuesday, councillors approved a 4.9% rates increase as part of the adoption of the Annual Plan 2020-21.
ES chief executive Rob Phillips said the plan could not, post-Covid-19 and flooding, stay as it was when planning began last year.
“There is no doubt this is going to be a challenging year for Southland and the rest of the world. In this period of recovery, council is committed to retaining a thriving Southland for people who live, work and visit here.”
The annual plan is forecasting a deficit of $2.7 million and sets the overall rates increase at 4.9%, which is below the 5.9% forecast in the Long-term Plan 2018-2028.
Chairman Nicol Horrell said ES was conscious post-Covid-19 money was short, but said they needed to balance jobs they were asked to do.
Councillor Lloyd Esler called it a compromise between “wanting everything” and how much they could ask for from ratepayers without “too much pain”.
“The outcome is probably the best we could get in the circumstances.”
While it was hoped ES would work to a balanced budget by 2024-2025, Cr Peter McDonald suggested the “assumption” needed to be revisited.
“This rate may not align with the community’s expectations but what does set us apart is that we have to have those reserves for the unknowns, which was the flooding events.”
As an example, a ratepayer with a house in Invercargill worth $235,000 would pay $16 more next year based on an overall rate increase of 4.9%.
Actual dollar amounts would vary from property to property as the overall rate was made up of a mix of land and capital value.
The impact of the changes was lessened to a degree by the Uniform Annual General Charge, but changes in valuation relativities were likely to affect many properties.
This year people could pay their rates in three instalments without penalty, via direct debit. More details would be available in September.