Council rethinks rates affordability for Ruatoria
The impact of several new rates on Ruatoria ratepayers has forced Gisborne District Council to have a rethink. The Ruatoria community is facing some of the highest rate increases in the district over the next year. The increases are being driven by a new rate to pay for Waiapu River flood protection and the introduction of a new sticker system to help pay for managing transfer stations.
A line of dolosse (large concrete blocks) installed over the last two years has been very successful at turning the mighty Waiapu River away from where it was eating at the bank below Ruatoria township. Now the project has to be paid for. Stage one has been completed and stage two will start later this year.
Council was proposing that the Waiapu River Protection Rate be paid for by ratepayers who benefit from the protection – those living by the river and those living in Ruatoria. These property owners would pay for 95% of the costs. The rest of the costs would be paid for by all Gisborne district ratepayers.
Council is also proposing a new rate to help pay for managing Ruatoria’s solid waste. The proposed new rate is $110 for all properties within 15 kilometres of the Ruatoria (or any of the nine other) rural transfer stations. It is in addition to $101 Ruatoria township ratepayers currently pay to have their rubbish collected each week. Council was originally proposing to close three of the solid waste transfer stations to reduce costs. The response to consultation in 2011 made it clear that residents wanted these to remain. However, they still needed to be funded.
When Council held a community meeting in Ruatoria on Thursday 12 April many of those who attended felt the new rates were not affordable. Council was listening and has had a rethink, says Mayor Meng Foon. “We understand that the two new rates will mean a big increase for Ruatoria people so we have come up with a couple of suggestions.”
“Ruatoria township residents may like to think about whether they still want the current rubbish collection to continue. If this was stopped each property in the township would not have to pay $101 for rubbish collection but they would have to take their own rubbish to the transfer station.”
“We have also looked at how other council’s pay for their flood protection schemes and come up with a new proposal. This would see more people helping to pay for the flood protection work.”
The new proposal would see:
- direct beneficiaries - those living by the river or in Ruatoria - fund 65% of the work
- indirect beneficiaries -those in the wider area who rely on shops, school, employment etc in Ruatoria – fund 15% of the work
- contributors - those whose properties add to the need for the work, usually in the upper catchment – fund 15% of the work
- all Gisborne district ratepayers - fund 5% of the work.
A special meeting will be held to discuss rates affordability, rubbish collection, funding Waiapu River protection work as well as Council’s Representation Review.
This is on Wednesday, 9 May 2012, 6pm at Uepohatu Hall, Whakarua Park. This is a really important meeting, says Mayor Foon. “I look forward to seeing lots of people coming along and telling me what they think.”
The final decision about whether Ruatoria’s rubbish continues to be collected and who should pay for river protection works will be made when Council adopts its 2012-2022 Ten Year Plan in June.
Submissions on the Ten Year Plan closed on 20 April 2012, however late submissions on Ruatoria’s rubbish collection and funding Waiapu River protection work will be received up to 4pm Wednesday 16 May 2012. Those affected by the proposed changes have received letters. They can make a submission on Council’s website or by calling Customer Services on 0800 653 800 and asking staff to complete the submission form on their behalf.