Ashburton District Council's rate increase for 2015-16 will not be as high as initially forecast, after community consultation revealed Ashburton residents wanted the Council to have a period of financial consolidation.
As part of adopting the Long Term Plan 2015-25, the Council today set rate increases for the next three years at 5.2 per cent (2015-16); 4.5 per cent (2016-17); and 11 per cent (2017-18). The impact on individual properties will vary depending on the value and location.
Mayor Angus McKay said he was pleased that the 2015-16 rate increase was lower than the original estimate of 6.5 per cent.
"Many of the 356 people, businesses and organisations who made submissions on the Long Term Plan consultation document thought the proposed increase was unaffordable and that we should focus on debt reduction and consolidation rather than spending on big ticket items," he said.
As a result, the Council has decided to defer a decision on the installation of two hydroslides at the new EA Networks Centre and will not be providing $1.5 million towards a sports facility in Rakaia. The hydroslides would have cost $2.57 million with half to have been funded by the community. A $1m dividend from Ashburton Contracting Limited (ACL) has also helped reduce the rate requirement for 2015-16.
Increased costs associated with the EA Networks Centre; capital investment in the Civic Administration Building; and implementation of the district's new wheelie bin initiative have contributed to the need for rate rises.
Mr McKay said, "the Council has directed staff to see if the 11 per cent rate increase for 2017-18, which is largely due to implementation of a new rubbish and recycling kerbside collection system, can be reduced by the introduction of some user pays charges".