Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.

JOHN CARTER - MAYOR OF THE FAR NORTH DISTRICT OF NEW ZEALAND


Moving forward together

2 July 2020

Funding essential services

Affordability, economic recovery and the need to fund essential services remained key considerations for the Far North District Council when we adopted our Annual Plan 2020/21 on Tuesday. We are aware of the financial hardship COVID-19 has caused for households and businesses and increased rates revenue to 2.23%, in line with inflation, instead of a 3.94% increase the Council proposed before the economic downturn. This minimises the burden for ratepayers and ensures we can continue to provide essential services. We have also tried to ensure that the Council has the resources to support the district's economic recovery.

he Council is contesting millions of dollars of central government funding for new infrastructure projects that will create jobs. We are confident we will receive funds for some of the 17 'shovel-ready' projects we have identified across the district and need to retain the organisational capacity to deliver these. Also, our capital works programme for 2020/21 will remain in a fluid state until we know which projects the Government is willing to fund.

Ensuring the drought-resilience of the District's water supplies will also be a priority for the Council in 2020/21. The Far North has a rainfall deficit and weather forecasters are predicting a dryer than usual winter. We are progressing works that will provide Kaitaia and Kaikohe with new water sources and costing options designed to make our other water supplies more drought-resilient.

We will send 2020/21 rates assessment to ratepayers in mid-July. People who pay rates can find out what their rates will be by checking the Rating Information Database on our website. As I explained in my last column, we will base some rates of the rates we set (General Rate, Targeted Roading Rate and Kaitaia Business Improvement District Rate) on property valuations independent valuer Quotable Value undertook on behalf of the Council last year.

A few messages bear repeating in this regard. First, the Council decides through the Annual Process how much it needs to collect in rates revenue to fund services over the coming year. Property values determine what share of rates ratepayers pay, not how much the Council collects. Second, we are required by law to revalue properties every three years. This is not optional and independent valuer, Quotable Value Ltd, determines the value of your property not the Council.

While it is good from a resale point of view that property values have risen across the district, some ratepayers will face rate increases above inflationary costs. Because of this, we are retaining rates relief measures we adopted in April until the end of September. Please contact us if you are experiencing financial hardship and want to discuss deferring payment of your rates.

 

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