Draft Annual Plan 2023/24
What's driving the increase?
We know that 16.9% is a big increase - and it isn’t a plan we make lightly. The increases reflect the cost pressures that are coming at us from all directions: inflation, interest rates, insurance, tougher water regulations and central government reforms and more. Most of these things we have no choice but to fund, and the majority of our funding comes from rates.
Here is a summary of how the 16.9% increase breaks down. Check out the consultation document or the FAQs below for a more detailed explanation of these increases:
- +4.4% for increased cost of asset replacements (roads, water and wastewater treatment plants and pipes, etc)
- +3.3% for changes to kerbside collections
- +2.7% for water supply operating costs
- +2% for transfer station operations
- +1.7% for interest rate increases
- +1.6% for electricity costs
- +1.2% for small increases across other Council budgets
Your rates increase will vary depending on the property value and the services you receive
We need to collect just over $7 million more in rates next year (a 16.9% increase), but that doesn't mean everyone's rates will increase by 16.9%. This is because some rates are 'targeted' - or only charged to the people who receive that service - like kerbside collection, or water supply, or wastewater.
Search for your property to see exactly how the proposed changes will affect you
The consultation document also includes some example properties so you can see how the proposed increase effects the different property types.
Online conversation cafe
In addition to in-person meetings we also had an online question and answer session. If you're looking for a specific question please check the video chapters below.
Read a summary of what is being proposed (including what's driving the increase)
Read the draft Annual Plan 2023/24 in full
Make a submission
Our options this year are limited due to the nature of what is driving the proposed 16.9% rate increase. We believe this draft budget strikes a balance - it includes a number of cut backs, as well as some risks in how we manage our finances to keep rates down, but it also means we can continue to deliver all our existing services and make progress on projects that are already under way.
We know that 16.9% is a massive increase - but we’re also wary of deferring any more costs, as prices only go up.
There are a few areas that we could partially fund or take greater risks (we’ve provided examples in the consultation document), however, we don’t believe these options would be financially responsible. They would only make the overall rates increase slightly smaller (lowering it to around 14.6%), and are likely to cause problems or even bigger increases in years to come.
If you think that those risks are worth taking and that we should kick these costs to the future for the sake of saving 2.3% this year, then we want to know about it. If you can think of anything else we haven’t considered to make significant savings that can be implemented as soon as 1 July (noting that we legally can’t make drastic service cuts without a lengthy Long Term Plan review) then we’d also love to hear your ideas.
Submissions are now closed.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you aren’t going to be able to afford your rates with this increase please contact us to discuss options with our rates team.
Note that if you had a low income during the 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023 financial year, you may be eligible for a rates rebate of up to $700. You can find more information about rates rebates here
It isn't. Kerbside collection is a targeted rate - so only people who receive that service will pay the increased costs associated with the change of contract.
We need to collect just over $7m more (16.9%) in rates to continue to deliver our services this year, but your actual increase will vary depending on the value of your property and the services you receive. You can see exactly how your rates will be affected by searching for your property in our Rating Information Database.
When the new contract begins in September, we will no longer collect rubbish and recycling from commercial areas. All properties in these areas will need to arrange their own rubbish and recycling disposal.
These properties will only be charged for kerbside collection for July and August 2023 (until the end of the existing kerbside collection contract).
It's important to note that if you search for your property in the rates and property search, it will currently show the cost of a full year of kerbside collection ($289.28). However, a rebate of around $241 will automatically be applied to your rates for 10 months worth of kerbside collection
A number of properties that weren't previously eligible for kerbside collection (like those on private roads, private lanes or right-of-ways) will start getting this service when the new contract begins in September.
Everyone who is eligible for the new service will be rated for it - regardless of whether or not they choose to use their bins.
These properties will see an even bigger increase than most urban households, because they've never been rated for kerbside collection before i.e. most urban properties are seeing an increase from $123.91 to $289.28. These properties are seeing their kerbside rate increase from $0 to around $240.
The current contract for kerbside collection is a ten year contract that comes to an end in August this year.
We needed to put a new contract in place to be able to continue to provide kerbside collection services to our community. We went through a competitive tender process to award the new contract to get the best possible price for the community.
We know that some people would prefer to opt out and organise their own rubbish disposal. There are a number of reasons why this would not work:
- The contractor has significant fixed costs related to delivering a kerbside collection service (eg, the cost to fit out the collection trucks, insurances, staff). The more properties we can spread these fixed costs over, the cheaper the service becomes for everyone.
- Government is requiring all councils to provide a recycling service by 2027 (including separate foodwaste collection) to households in urban areas with 1000 people or more. Council can’t opt out of providing this service, so we want the best deal for the majority of our urban areas.
- There would be practical challenges both for the contractor (like which properties to collect) and for Council (which properties to charge) – these would require more admin time, which equals more costs.
- And while your household might be doing all the right things – recycling and reducing the amount of waste you send to landfill, composting or not putting foodwaste in your general refuse (which increases emissions), we know that some households aren’t playing their part. If Council doesn’t take a strong role in encouraging everyone to reduce their waste going to landfill and reduce emissions – then who will?
Household inflation (known as CPI) has gone up by 7.2%. Every household will know about these increases, as you will have seen groceries and other household bills (your basket of goods) increasing.
The “basket of goods” that Council purchases is different to a household – our basket includes replacing pipes, maintaining roads, purchasing chemicals for water treatment etc. Local government inflation (based on the Capital Goods Price Index) has been hit even harder with increases of between 12.9% and 19%. A number of items in this basket rely on products that are in short supply worldwide, or have had significant price spikes such as oil, transportation and labour costs.
When you run water treatment and wastewater treatment plants 24/7, streetlights across the district, heat swimming pools, provide 24 hour wifi at libraries (and more) you use a LOT of electricity.
We've implemented a number of improvements over recent years to be smarter about how we're using that electricity (such as sensors on lights, and LED lamps in the streetlights). However, we also need to factor in the increased electricity that our planned projects will also require - such as running the additional water treatment plant in Morrinsville.
On top of the asset replacement costs and the increasing power explained in the Consultation Document, the cost to deliver clean, safe drinking water to our homes and businesses continues to increase.
A new water regulator (Taumata Arowai) is in place for New Zealand. Their role is overseeing the environmental performace of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater networks. Part of their mandate is improving the standards around water quality in New Zealand and more rigorous monitoring. At the same time, we are required to comply with conditions set by the Regional Council (e.g. for water take consents), which continue to get tougher. The requirements from both authorities are positive, as they mean improvements for all New Zealanders, but they come at a cost. We need to do more planning, investigations and detailed reporting to comply – and this requires additional resources. On top of this, we have seen significant price increases in the chemicals that are used to treat water to make it safe to drink - for example, chlorine costs have increased by approximately 40%.
The proposed 16.9% increase already includes significant changes and cuts to our budgets, including:
- cuts to operating budgets across the organisation
- deferring or reprioritising $13m worth of projects
- reducing our total salary budget allowing for potential staff vacancies
- increasing a number of fees and charges
- allowing for more income from our facilities
- rethinking our approach to collecting funds to replace assets in the future (taking a bit more risk)
You can read more detail about all of these cuts in the consultation document
To get the increase any lower, we'd need to make really drastic cuts to Council services - and we legally can't do that without having a really robust conversation with the community. We are planning to bring that conversation back to the community over the next 12 months.
We are legally required to adopt an Annual Plan by 30 June each year.
To get the rates increase lower than the proposed 16.9% we would have to make drastic cuts to Council services, and we legally can't do that without going through a lengthy process to amend our Long Term Plan.
We investigated going through that process to get the rates lower, but ultimately we wouldn't be able to work through the required processes in time to adopt an Annual Plan for 30 June. This leaves us between a rock and a hard place.
Council went through the budgets with a fine tooth comb and made the changes that they could, without triggering those lengthy statutory processes. You can read more about the cuts we're proposing in the consultation document
We had already signalled a significant rate increase of 11.8% for this year – around 6.4% of that was because of the changes proposed for the kerbside collection service and refuse transfer operations.
Other councils don't have this change on top of the other pressures the sector is facing.
Also, how each council has decided to manage the cost pressures may differ – same may choose to borrow to balance their books and recover the costs of doing so through rates over future years. Others may take a bigger risk that asset replacement costs may reduce over time and not fund them at all. Some councils have other sources of revenue they can tap into to help weather these kinds of storms (eg investment funds, sale of assets, a build-up of reserve funds). It is hard to compare increases between Councils unless you understand the decisions that they have made.
A number of Council’s also report their rate increase ‘net of growth’ – that means they report the rate increase to existing ratepayers, excluding how much rates income they expect to collect from new properties. We report the increase in total rates revenue, including both existing and new rateable properties, because we think this is the most transparent for our community.
Council had adopted a draft budget prior to Christmas. With the information available at the time, the proposed rates increase was around 13%. While acknowledging that this was a significant increase, Council decided not to consult the community on this increase, as it was close to the close to the 11.8% that had originally been forecast and widely consulted on already.
However, changes over the last four months - such as our electricity bill and the and the Government announcement on 3 Waters Reform, meant we needed to review the draft budget. Including these changes, we need to collect just over $7m more (or 16.9% more) in rates to continue to deliver our services for the year ahead. Because this is a significant increase on what had been originally proposed (the 11.8%), Council decided that it is important to be really transparent with the community about the challenges we are facing, and how we are proposing to budget for them.
4pm, 26 May
Council consider submissions and make decisions
Changes/amendments made to plan and budgets
7 - 27 June
Council adopt final Annual Plan 2023/24
- See what we originally planned and consulted on in the Long Term Plan
- View the 2023/23 Annual Plan