Horizons Regional Council rates rise 8.1% slightly less than expected
Nicholas McBride / Stuff
Rates for the Horizons Regional Council are expected to rise by an average of 8.1%, but ratepayers in Palmerston North will be particularly hard hit.
The use of property values to set rates is causing consternation within the Horizons Regional Council, with residents of Palmerston North taking more than triple the hit to their rate bills than other residents of the area.
Recent reassessments in the city mean that the average ratepayer there will see a rate increase there next year of 27.35%, rather than the region’s average of 8.1%.
The figures emerged when the council signed its annual plan on Tuesday.
While annual plans are usually subject to consultation, Horizons didn’t need it as it mostly stuck to the long-term plan it signed in 2021.
* Horizons rate increases are “some of the largest” proposed
* The council faces a difficult balancing act to help Palmerston North weather the Covid-19 crisis
* Rates are increasing in Rangitīkei, Tararua, Ruapehu largely due to property valuations
There were some minor changes to how certain environmental and flood protection projects would be carried out, as well as inflation-related increases in insurance and public transport costs.
An additional $375,000 was added to the Lake Horowhenua weed harvesting project after the successful trial in late 2021.
Despite these cost increases, the actual average rate increase was less than the 8.22% projected in the long-term plan.
Figures provided by Horizons, however, show that the actual increase in different parts of the Horizons area varies.
Rates in Rangitīkei, Ruapehu, and Tararua would actually decrease on average, Whanganui and Horowhenua would have average increases of up to 3%, while those in Manawatū would be almost stable.
Palmerston North, however, has seen rates rise by an average of 27.35% due to recent real estate revaluations which have pushed home values up by an average of 75%.
How are municipal rates calculated?
There are shades of things happening, given that Palmerston North’s average rise of 4.9% in 2018 was well below the regional average rise of 7.44%, but Ruapehu’s is expected to rise by 22, 8% on average.
It’s a similar problem to the one Palmerston North City Council is grappling with, with recent reassessments having seen some people’s rates soar as high as 40 per cent from an average increase of 8.3 per cent.
Horizons president Rachel Keedwell said it was something she found difficult.
“It’s a broken system. It’s not related to the ability to pay.
Councilor John Turkington said it was important to talk about raising rates, given the difficulties faced by people on fixed incomes.
“There are people who struggle to put food on the table on a daily basis.”
Although the local government funding model is challenging, it was also important to consider how the council could deliver services as efficiently as possible, he said.
Councilor Nicola Patrick, who is not running in the next election, said the council needs to strike a balance between affordable rates and the work people want to do.
Programs to help with river fencing, riparian planting and other positive environmental improvements were often oversubscribed, so more money was needed if people wanted this work done, she said. .
Although the annual plan is not yet online – Horizons has 30 days after its adoption to make it publicly available – users can check the progress of their rate bill at horizons.govt.nz/rates-search.