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Mayor's message: Searching for the balance and our district's growing pains

I wanted to update you on some important decisions we've made last week about our district's general rates for the 2024/25 financial year.  

This year, we received 227 submissions on our draft 2024/25 Enhanced Annual Plan. After reading all the submissions along with listening to your feedback and discussing it extensively around the Council table, Councillors unanimously settled on an 11.9% general rate revenue increase. 

I appreciate that for some in our community this won’t be news that you’ll want to hear from your Council, especially with the financial pressures that are facing us all during this cost of living crisis. 

We want to reassure you that we heard your concerns about the initial proposal of a 13.75% general rate revenue increase loud and clear. Your Council has and remains focused on reducing the rating impact as much as possible. The Council and I were determined to find ways to bring this proposed increase down, and after three intense days of reviewing feedback and budgets, we managed to find additional savings to lower that figure. 

We understand that many people in our district are going through tough financial times, and every dollar counts. So, we've decided to delay or push out some projects to help reduce costs for the next year. 

While we’ve been debating and deliberating on next year’s projects, services and activities and their rating impact, another issue at the top our minds has been the district-wide property revaluation, which is done by Quotable Value (QV) on the Council’s behalf. The revaluation is not only an important process to make sure rates are spread fairly across property owners in the district, it’s also a legal requirement that we have. 

The average house value in our district has gone up by around 21%, which is good news for property owners. At the same time, this could further impact the affordability of rates for properties that have significantly increased in value compared to the average property value in the district. The new average residential house value is now $721,000, with the average residential land value also up by 22% to $401,000. You can read more about the revaluation and check the rates calculator on our website

Soon we’ll be revisiting our delayed Long Term Plan and we’ll be out in the community discussing which specific services and projects matter the most to you. It will take careful planning to strike the right balance between keeping rates affordable and ensuring the Waikato district remains a great place to live and work over the next decade. 

We’ll officially adopt the Enhanced Annual Plan on 26 June 2024, and it will take effect on 1 July 2024. 

I want to thank you all for your valuable feedback during the consultation period, and encourage you to reach out to your local elected members with your thoughts on what Council should be prioritising for the next decade. 

Together, we'll get through these challenging times and keep making Waikato district a great place to live, work, and play. 

Ngaa mihi,  

Mayor Jacqui