Fri 15 Feb 19.
Ruapehu ratepayers can expect an average 3.52% rate increase for the coming 2019/20 financial year which is below the 3.86% forecast in the Long Term Plan (LTP) but in line with the yearly ten year projection of 3.5%.
Mayor Don Cameron said that the 3.52% increase will allow Council to maintain services while working to deliver on a significant capital works programme worth $17.3m.
“Over March and April we will be holding public meetings throughout the district to discuss the year ahead including the work programme and answer any questions people may have on the Annual Plan,” he said.
“There are no significant changes to our work programme or direction in the Annual Plan from what was as outlined in last year’s LTP however we made some minor changes to the work plan order.
These changes are minor in the scheme of things and are within the normal ‘swings and roundabouts’ that we manage every year.
We have the usual cost challenges however achieving the 3.52% has been helped by savings from lower debt servicing costs and increased revenue from building activity.
Our projected debt level at $30.1m will be $3.6m under the $33.7m forecast in the LTP and our debt serving is benefiting from our joining the Local Government Funding Agency (LGFA).
Increased building activity which indicates a growing district and with it a growing ratepayer base and revenue is also helping.”
Mayor Cameron added that looking forward there were a couple of significant issues where we are still waiting on government direction notably around the 3 waters and climate change.
“The government review of the water sector is on-going and whatever the final outcome it is likely to mean higher costs (as highlighted in the LTP) in future years.
At this stage we have no firm indication of how the water review will impact us and feel it is likely that any significant changes will be a subject for the next LTP (2021-2031)
While the new LTP and Asset Management Plans take climate change impacts into account and we are planning further research into mitigation strategies we anticipate that government legislation will increase costs in this area.
Despite these ‘unknowns’ Council feels it is well positioned to adapt as and when required and manage within our long term rate and debt projections as per the LTP.
An example of this is our goal of aligning township revitalisation and water renewal works with Chorus’ UFB roll-out so that we only need to dig once and minimize cost and disruption.
Chorus has indicated a timeframe of late this year to start UFB roll-out in Taumarunui.
If we need to start work this financial year we will reprioritize funding and balance things out in later years so as not to lose the opportunity to align the work programs.”