Tuatapere Rate Rise Information

Please note that this is an opinion piece that contains details that may contain some errors.  It is hoped that it will help Tuatapere residents better understand what is behind their 18-19% rate rise.

First I feel I need to highlight that I have had no response to questions relating to the reason that our rate rise is so high from either the Chair of the Tuatapere Te Waewae Community Board or our local SDC Councillor.  It is their stated role to do so.  In my opinion it is very convenient for them to ‘hide’ behind SDC when it suits them.

I have finally had some response directly from SDC Finance staff just hours before their Easter shutdown – they won’t be available until the 7th April for follow up questions.  I still have questions, however I will try to provide what detail I can, so residents can be better prepared to ask questions on the 8th April at the SDC Drop-in sessions.

The stated 10.15% rate rise in the LTP Consultation Document (and elsewhere) is, I believe, an average figure over all of Southland district.  I think it is unfortunate that the Mayor and SDC have presented it in the way they have.  However, as the limited examples show in the LTP Consultation Document, the actual rate rise varies across different areas.  Much of this is due to the restructuring of our Community Board boundaries and redistribution of how funding works.

Tuatapere would have had a rate rise similar to Otautau, shown as the Residential (Otautau) example on page 24 and 25 of the LTP Consultation Document as 13% (or perhaps a little higher) were it not for some additional costs as shown below.

There are 3 significant increases in cost for Tuatapere residents, which can be found in the Tuatapere Te Waewae Community Board Agenda documents for the meetings held on the 4 Nov 2020 and 12 Dec 2020, available from southland.infocouncil.biz.  In a nutshell they are:

  1. Mowing (Parks & Reserves): $14,000 (approx)
  2. Maintenance (Tuatapere Beautification): $40,000 (approx)
  3. Community Partnership Program (addition above normal): $14,000 (approx)

These three items contribute significantly to the rate increase of 18-19% for Tuatapere ratepayers.

My understanding, and it would be wonderful (and appropriate) if the Chair of the Tuatapere Te WaeWae Community Board could provide more detail, is that for each item:

  1. the mowing contract cost has increased significantly – what is being mowed?
  2. there has or will be a rise in cost of gardening – however this does not account for all of the maintenance cost rise and it is unclear just what is included in this rise
  3. an additional $14,104 has been requested to increase the available funds to the Community Partnership Program – note that this is above the council provided fund of $20,000 (approx), and also note that an additional $10,000 was drawn this year as an unbudgeted expense and ‘given’ out, above what was actually asked for by the applicants!?

I believe item 3 should be reviewed and I am seeking additional information around 1 and 2 – perhaps these would be good questions to be asked at the drop-in sessions?

Some additional details that may contribute to discussions and possible avenues for Tuatapere residents to offset their rates:

The sports field behind the Waiau Town & Country Club is leased for $1 per year and should be fully maintained by the lessor.

It is not clear if the Tuatapere Domain, at the end of Elder Drive, raises any money to offset rates – baleage is collected, events are held, mowing is carried out at ratepayer expense.  However, at least in the past, some mowing was done by volunteers, significant funds were ‘donated’ by ratepayers to purchase a lawn mower for the domain.  Details of how this all works are not at all clear and appear to be ‘hidden’ from public view.

The golf club on Clifden Highway (land owned by ratepayers) pays $250 a year lease – they are responsible for the upkeep etc.

Previously the Tuatapere Community Board Residential targeted rate (the rate we pay specifically for our community) was $242.47.  It is being replaced by Tuatapere Te Waewae CB Urban which is $334.16.  Much of this change is due to the items listed above (but not all).

There are 292 Tuatapere Urban ratepayers (live in Tuatapere) who will pay the full new Urban targeted rate of $334.16 (as per the Predicted rates search tool).

There are 89 Semi-Urban ratepayers (Orepuki and Monowai) who will pay one half of this rate – $167.08.

There are 583 Rural ratepayers (everyone outside Tuatapere, Orepuki and Monowai) who will pay one quarter of this rate – $83.54.

The item Tuatapere hall – resurface floor $27,000 listed on page 27 of the LTP Consultation Document is not funded out of the targeted rate as outlined above, it is funded by the Tuatapere Hall $48.09 item which is shown on the Predicted rates search tool – this has not changed significantly from previous rates (on the last rates it was $49.55).

The item Tuatapere – new footpaths $15,000 listed on page 27 of the LTP Consultation Document is now funded from NZTA directly, so (and this needs to be confirmed) doesn’t contribute to the large rate rise we are seeing.

The above is specifically about Tuatapere township, not the whole LTP so please keep that in mind.

Myles Greber

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