Rates set to rise by 65 percent over the next decade

08 Jun 2021

The average rates bill on the Coromandel Peninsula in 10 year’s time will be just under $5,000, a rise of 65 percent on current levels if Thames-Coromandel District Council’s latest spending plans are adopted on 30 June.

Under TCDC’s new Long Term Plan, which is set to be formally voted on at the end of the month, the 2020/21 average rate of $3,008 will increase by more than five percent annually for the next decade, hitting $4,982 in 2030/31. However, it will not be an even rise, with the bulk of the cost front-loaded over the first five years, including a 9.6 percent rise in July this year. In a departure from the much publicised “no frills” budget which was consulted on with ratepayers, councillors at their deliberations meeting on 1 June added an additional $63.5m to the capital programme on top of the $380m that staff said was needed for essential infrastructure and services - a close to 17 percent increase.

The difference is so significant, Corporate Services Group Manager, Donna Holland, advised a third-party review would likely be needed to adjudicate if additional public consultation was necessary and further audit work would also be required to assess what she described as the “massive changes” between the consultation document and the LTP as it emerged from the deliberations meeting. 

Doubts were also raised as to whether the proposed infrastructure schedule was even achievable, with council’s chief executive, Rob Williams, suggesting a completion rate of 80 percent at best, noting particular concerns about the $55m year one programme, emphasising that council had never in the past five years delivered more than $40m of infrastructure investment when conditions had been good, as opposed to the current contractor and supplies shortages.

Addressing the question of affordability for ratepayers, Mr Williams said most of the additional work had come at the request of the community boards around the Peninsula. Added items include the Whitianga Esplanade reclamation project, the Tairua library extension and the extension of waste water services to Wharekaho. 

“Those community boards are operating at a grassroots level and they are convinced that they know their communities very well so I believe, with the way we have run this LTP process, that we’ve never before had such a good representation of what our community wants us to deliver,” Mr Williams said. Ratepayers will need to consult directly with their councillors to find out how they determined which projects would go ahead since, as the chief executive described, the “agonising” decision-making took place at a private workshop ahead of the formal deliberations meeting. Mr Williams urged the elected members to “be brave” and follow through on what they had agreed at the workshop.

The proposed rate increases vary marginally according to Community Board area, with Thames set to face the highest average yearly increase at 5.6 percent and Tairua-Pauanui the lowest at 4.8 percent. Mercury Bay ratepayers will see an average rise of five percent a year, but can expect an 8.3 percent lift in 2021/22.