Council hits zero per cent general rates increase target for 2020/21
Taupō District Council today adopted an Annual Plan for the next financial year that will see it collect 0.43 per cent less total rates per property on average than the previous year.
The plan not only makes good on the council’s post COVID-19 promise of at least a zero per cent average general rates increase, but also sees a zero per cent increase in targeted rates.
However, the impact on individual rates bills will depend on movements during last year’s property revaluations, required by law, as there had been some quite large property value increases in the residential sector, and reductions in others.
Mayor David Trewavas said both the governance and management teams had worked hard to achieve the reduction, completely rethinking the Annual Plan, which had originally signaled a general rates increase of 3.02 per cent for the 2020/21 year.
“We have not only achieved the zero per cent rates rise, we’ve exceeded it, and have done that by real savings, not borrowing or impacting on our investment fund,” he said.
The need for savings had resulted in some hard decisions needing to be made, particularly around services and activities subsidised by ratepayer funding. As a result, the district’s iSites were being brought back under council control, the operational grant for Destination Great Lake Taupō who market the district had been reduced by $500k, and the group fitness classes at the council-run Fitness Studio and the swim squads at the AC Baths had been dissolved.
Investing in a robust capital expenditure programme to inject money back into the economy was also part of the balancing act.
While a number of capital projects programmed for the 2020/21 financial year had been put on hold including the Civic Administration Building, Museum upgrade, the Kiddle Drive-Arrowsmith Avenue roundabout and CBD intersection upgrades, there would continue to be strong investment across the district as part of a $60m capital expenditure programme. This is made up of $39 million new capital works and $21 million uncompleted works in the 19/20 year, partly affected by COVID-19.
For example, in Taupō, there would be the completion of the Great Lake Shared Pathway extension and the construction of the pipeline to connect Acacia Bay to the drinking water network.
In Turangi, there would be an upgrade of some of the open spaces, including the development of community changing facilities at Turangitukua Park. There would also be significant repairs to Turangi’s kerb and channelling network.
Community changing facilities would also be developed in Mangakino, and in Kinloch there would be the planned upgrade of the drinking water supply along and improvements to the wastewater treatment plant.
Mr Trewavas said he was incredibly proud of how the community had rallied in the wake of COVID-19 and while it would be a lean 12 months for the council, he was pleased to have realised the council’s commitment to ratepayers.
“These are exceptional times, and we know there is a long road ahead, but we understand the importance of creating a vibrant, thriving district and the critical role investment plays in achieving this. We want to keep people employed,” he said.