Council votes to lower the burden on residents for the next year

Published on 18 June 2020

Council Chambers.

At their Extraordinary Council meeting held Wednesday 17 June, Council voted to decrease the amount of rates income it will collect for the 2020/21 year, compared to the current 2019/20 year.

 The decision came as Councillors considered the ongoing impact COVID-19 would have on the Horowhenua community.

 “Horowhenua is a fantastic place to live, work and play and we are increasingly seeing it becoming more attractive for those wanting to relocate. However, we have an above average population on fixed incomes and are over-represented in unemployment statistics” Mayor Bernie Wanden said.

 According to the Index of Multiple Deprivation, Horowhenua has an overall deprivation score of 8, where 10 represents the most deprived.

 “The highest three areas of deprivation for Horowhenua are in Employment, Education and Income” he highlighted.

 As a result, Councillors decided the hardship currently being faced by the community could be lessened somewhat by a rates income decrease.

 “We received a large number of submissions to this Annual Plan, more than the previous two years combined. We heard from sections of our community that COVID-19 had negatively affected their livelihoods” Mayor Bernie said.

 “We owe it to our community to listen to them in this time of need and uncertainty”.

 The approximate -1.8% rates income decrease, representing approximately $700,000 less rates being collected than in the current financial year, was achieved by reducing employee costs and interest costs, while also reducing the capital expenditure for projects. Council also elected to reduce the required rate take even further by decreasing rate-funded asset renewals by instead borrowing an additional $1million to fund them. 

While the overall rates income decrease would see Council collecting less money, it would not necessarily mean a rates decrease for all households in the district. Some houses will receive a more significant decrease, while others will see an increase in their rates which will largely be driven by the re-valuation of properties which took place last year and will come into effect 1 July 2020.

Mayor Bernie Wanden wanted to assure the community that the reduced income of $700,000 would not mean any significant reduction in progress being seen across the district.

“We still have some exciting projects being undertaken in Horowhenua, including the two new roading projects on Queen Street which we are thankful are being funded by the Provincial Growth Fund. Horowhenua and Council are still looking at partnerships to ensure we are meeting our growth needs and creating employment opportunities in our district” he said.

“The Council’s decision ensures it maintains its debt capacity to commit to capital projects”.

 ENDS

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