What is a Long Term Plan?

A Long Term Plan is a 10-year budgeted plan that your Council puts together once every three years for all the work we do on your behalf.

Do we get a say on it?

Yes. Our draft Long Term Plan for the next 10 years 2018-28 cannot be adopted by the Council until we have consulted with our community.  We have prepared a consultation document about the Plan that we will be posting to you in time for the start of consultation on March 14. We will need your feedback by 9am on Monday 16 April.

When is the consultation period for the Long Term Plan 2018-28?

14 March to 16 April 2018

How can I find out more?

  • We will be posting you a consultation document for you to read all about it.
  • We will also put all the relevant information up on our website in time for the start of the consultation on 14 March at: www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/longtermplan
  • You can attend one of 15 public information sessions we’re running in the district during consultation.  (See the times and venues on our website and in the consultation document.)

When will I get my consultation document?

The consultation document will be on the Council website before 14 March. It will be in urban letterboxes by 14-15 March and rural letterboxes by 16-17 March. It will be available at our public information sessions.

How can I provide my feedback?

Once consultation starts on 14 March you can:

Why are rates going up, and what will mine be?

Rates are going up because the cost for the work that we do for you is rising, but we are trying to keep those costs as low as possible so that rates don’t go up too fast.  (For further details see the answers to Questions 9, 10, 11 and 12.) Individual rate increases overall will vary depending on your property type (residential, lifestyle, rural, commercial or industrial), your property value and location, and the services available.  Once consultation starts on 14 March you will be able to see what the impact is for your own property if you go to our Rating Information Database at www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/rid 

What are we being consulted on?

We are offering four options for managing our three waters services (water supply, wastewater and stormwater) in the future.  The Council’s preferred option would save $28.3 million or more over the next 10 years and will help to slow down rises in targeted waters rates over the years.

We are also offering three options for re-setting the fixed charge portion of the general rate (the Uniform Annual General Charge or UAGC).  If we reduce the UAGC it will help reduce the rates burden on lower value properties. (For a brief description of the general rate, UAGC, and targeted rates – see Question 9.)

Please explain general rates and targeted rates, and how the UAGC fits into this?

Your rates are made up of two types being General Rates and Targeted Rates. General Rates primarily pay for Council services that are available to all properties in the district (like roading, parks and reserves, libraries, and so on). Targeted Rates pay for localised services (such as water, wastewater, refuse and recycling collections), and these are charged according to the location of your property and the services available.

The General Rate is made up of two parts; one is variable and is linked to the value of the property, and one is a fixed charge that is the same amount for every property.  The fixed charge is called the Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC).

How will a 6.24% increase in the general rate affect my property?

While the total general rate that the Council collects for the whole district will go up 6.24% (and the answer to Question 11 explains why), the effect on individual ratepayers will differ depending on the capital value of your property.

Properties were revalued last year and some properties in the district rose higher in value than others.  The variation in how capital values have risen will affect the impact of the general rate.  If your property went up higher than the average increase of 33.7% then your rates are likely to rise.  If your property value was lower than the average, then your rates will not rise as much, and for some properties the rates may not change much or might even fall.

We do not collect more rates just because property valuations have increased.  We only collect the rates required to do the work that you need.

Also, the impact of the general rate impact will change according to the size of the UAGC. The Council’s preferred option is to reduce the UAGC or fixed charge portion of general rates by $103 (from $454.49 to $351.96) and we’re seeking your views on this.  Reducing the UAGC will reduce the rates burden on lower value properties. This is because a lower UAGC means a larger portion of the general rate will be calculated on property value.  

Just a reminder:  Individual rate increases overall will vary depending on your property type (residential, lifestyle, rural, commercial or industrial), your property value and location, and the services available.  Once consultation starts on 14 March you will be able to see what the impact is for your own property if you go to our Rating Information Database at www.waiktodistrict.govt.nz/rid

Why is the general rate going up 6.24% when inflation is much lower than this?

Half of this increase is because our roading budget is going up $1.8m. We have allocated $1.1m per year to a new budget for emergency roading works.  The March/April storms of last year cost $1m in short term repairs and will cost a further $2.58m to restore our damaged roads permanently – and so we think it is now prudent to start budgeting for more extreme weather events in the future. Our maintenance budgets have also increased overall because we are a growing district and we must develop and maintain roading to support that growth.

Also, the new Waikato District Alliance joint venture with Downer NZ has continued to deliver improvement in roading asset management and maintenance, and in customer responsiveness, but as a result of winding up our own Council-owned roading company, Strada, we now no longer get a $500,000 annual dividend from that company that was once used to off-set rates.

District growth in general means that we have more parks, more streetlights, more signage, and more facilities of all kinds – all of which are funded out of the general rate.  As our population grows in the next 10 years there will be more ratepayers to cover this cost.  After 2018/19, general rate increases for subsequent years are expected to drop to 4.8% (2019/20), 3.73% (2020/21), and 3% in subsequent years.

Why will some targeted rates go up so high? 

If you look at the dollar amounts instead of the percentage increases, targeted rates in our main centres (with access to all our services) will go up in total by between $140 and $169 per year. Nearly $125 of this increase relates to wastewater charges.

a) Wastewater: From 1 July your wastewater rate is going up 13.9% which is the level we agreed with the community in our Annual Plan consultation on wastewater last year. The community decided* we needed to do more work on our wastewater system to provide greater protection for our sensitive environments all around the district after there were several spills in Raglan Harbour in 2016. But this wastewater rate will drop to much lower increases after that – only 2% each year if we choose the Council’s preferred option for managing our waters services in the future.

* We received 465 written submissions and 242 poll responses. The weight of submissions (41% of written submissions and 43% of poll results) was in favour of the second of three options presented for consultation, which proposed targeted wastewater rates should rise to allow for preparation of long term plans to protect waterways and environmentally sensitive areas from overflows.

b) Options for ‘three waters’ management will keep future targeted rates increases down:  In this Long Term Plan consultation (14 March to 16 April) we are offering four different options for managing our three waters services (water supply, wastewater and stormwater) in the future.  The Council’s preferred option would save $28.3m over the next 10 years and would keep rates increases for waters services as low as possible.  You can read about these options in the consultation document when it’s posted to you and goes on our website.* (See delivery dates Q5.)

c) Refuse & recycling: Our refuse targeted rate is going up $28.85 (22%) because our underlying costs are rising and - after reducing the targeted rate to introduce a user-pays sticker system for our refuse collections last year - we have not sold as many stickers as we expected.  This could be seen as a good thing, but it means that our refuse targeted rate must go up so that we can meet the costs of providing the service.  We will be reviewing our refuse and recycling services and consulting with you separately on them later on. 

d) Other targeted rates will go up less than 5% and have been set to cover increased costs.

More questions on refuse and recycling rates

a) Why is my refuse rate going up if I’m still paying for stickers?

We have not sold as many stickers as we expected, and underlying costs have risen, and so we are not covering our costs for providing this service.  With the introduction of stickers we reduced the targeted rate district wide by between $85 and $104 to $127.83 (except in Raglan and Te Mata which have different services). We now propose lifting it by nearly $30 – so it’s not going up as much as it initially came down.  Also, we’re reviewing our refuse and recycling services again in the coming year (2018/19) and will be asking for your feedback again on how we deliver those services.

b) Is there more illegal dumping and has that affected  the revenue  collected via stickers?

Illegal dumping has increased – but it’s not enough to account for the reduction in sticker sales compared to what we expected.  Also it’s not a factor that’s contributing to the rates increase.

c) Council dropped our refuse rate to soften the blow of paying for the stickers. Is the increase now just to cover illegal dumping?  Is there an effort being made to track down illegal dumpers?

 

The increase is to cover higher underlying costs as well as the loss of expected revenue from sticker sales.  There has been an increase in illegal dumping, but this is not a factor contributing to a rates increase. We are certainly making big efforts to track down illegal dumpers, and have called on the community to help us identify those that choose to dump their rubbish.  Where we have sufficient evidence a $400 fine will be issued.

Who pays targeted rates?

You only pay targeted rates for localised services like wastewater and refuse collections if you own a property with access to these services.

I live rurally – what do I get for my rates?

The general rate pays for services that are available to everyone in the district, even if you live further away.  It covers the cost of roads, parks and reserves, libraries and so on. We understand roads are important for our rural residents and ratepayers. With the establishment of the Waikato District Alliance, our response rate to customer requests for roading work has dropped from an average of six days to less than two days.  An example of how we work is the way we reinstated access on Otonga Valley Rd within 20 hours of a catastrophic collapse of a culvert under the road in November 2016, isolating 28 residents. We arranged additional resources, including transportation to get children to school to sit national exams, as we worked to restore access.

Who can I talk to about this Long Term Plan consultation?

Talk to your Ward Councillor.  Contact details for all Councillors are on our website here.