We've looked at a range of options to keep rate increases down

The cost of living for our residents, businesses and ratepayers has been top of mind for us as we work on our draft long-term plan for your feedback.

To get the rates increase down to 11.3% in Year 1, we've used a range of tools we have available to help minimise costs, where possible. These include both financial measures and service level options. Read more below.

Increase our debt limit

We borrow money just like you may do for big purchases, and it works the same – we borrow a certain amount of money and pay it off in installments over a set time period. Just like how banks test that you can afford to pay your mortgage, the same thing is done to us to ensure we don’t borrow more money than what our community can pay back. Borrowing also means that debt is paid for over time, which means current ratepayers aren't lumbered with all the costs of future generations.

We borrow money for capital programmes which are typically our infrastructure projects – like building a new building, transport projects or getting new equipment.

Our budgets assume we will need to increase the amount we're borrowing from $258 million to $660 million over the next decade, which means we can do more projects to improve services for you.

The risk of this is that, just like for your mortgage, interest rates change over time. If they go up this will cost us more to pay off that debt.

Currently we borrow up to 200% of our operating revenue and are proposing to increase this to 250%.

Keep costs down

We know you don’t want to pay more rates, and we don’t want to have large increases for our community. But we also need to balance that with maintaining our assets to ensure they don’t degrade further and continue to provide the services you love.

Months of work has gone into getting rates down to this point – we have looked at everything we spend money on and assessed whether it’s needed or not, and what we can do to reduce costs. This process was done initially by staff to reduce the rating impact, and then elected members reviewed and reduced these further. In some instances, some additional operational programmes were also added.

Seek co-funding for some work

There are many things we do where another organisation chips in to help cover the costs. We’ve always done this through co-funding for transport projects with NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi, grants for many of our library and playground initiatives, partnerships for our Central Energy Trust Arena and Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery Centre and many more.

We’re planning on doing this far more in the future, and in some cases we’ve decided work will not occur unless we get co-funding. 

Increase fees and charges

Some of our services are based on a user-pays model, which means they are funded from a mix of fees and charges and rates. Both direct users and ratepayers benefit from them.

These fees and charges are across the board and can include things like rubbish bags, e-waste disposal, commercial water use, cemetery or sportsground fees, obtaining a building or resource consent, hiring a facility, parking, dog registration and many more.

Most of these fees and charges will increase by at least 7% from 1 July to cover the increasing costs of providing the services. On-street metered parking will increase from $1.70 to $2 per hour. The maximum retail price for large Council rubbish bags will increase from $2.90 to $3.80.

Slow down or stop projects or improvements

There are instances where we've delayed planned work and projects, or decided to stop them altogether. These are explained throughout this long-term plan website and our consultation document.

Stage the timing of replacements

Lots of the assets that provide our services require replacement over time. We call these renewals. Road repairs, roofs, park benches and water pipes are just a few examples.

We're proposing to spend a lot more on maintaining our assets over the next decade. These types of projects are funded through rates, not borrowing, so we can delay some of these renewals.

This means we can reduce the rates increase, but it means we may not meet your expectations and may have more urgent repairs if some of our assets fail, for example, if a water pipe bursts.

Our supporting information provides more detail about what these proposals look like.