A proposal to fundamentally change the way rates are calculated by the Horowhenua District Council has attracted more than 250 submissions for its draft long-term plan.
The board received 264 submissions, of which 80 individuals or groups wish to speak directly to the board during three days of hearings scheduled for early May.
The biggest problem for bidders this year was the proposed shift from a valuation system based on property value to one that uses capital value to determine property rates.
Capital value is the estimated value of the land as well as improvements, such as housing.
The Horowhenua Farmers’ Ratepayer Group supported the shift to capital value.
Spokeswoman Ann Thomas wrote that the group believed it would provide a more equitable distribution of the overall burden of tariffs on taxpayers.
The group has submitted to the council for several years, stating that farmers pay an unfair amount in district tariffs because they are considered to be able to afford it.
Thomas’ submission raised concerns about the council’s financial position as he plans to run deficits over the next three years, and urged councilors to look at their spending.
“We are very concerned about current and projected debt levels and urge councilors to adopt a prudent and sensible budget for the future.”
Horowhenua Gray Power argued that it did not find the status quo or the shift to capital value beneficial.
“Each of these options fails to meet the council’s highest level goal – to be ‘a desire to address affordability issues in some cities’,” the submission said.
Instead, the organization offered to work with council staff to find a practical alternative that would solve this problem.
Tokomaru is a city where affordability of fares is an issue and frustration persists with the services residents get for their fares.
The submission of the Tokomaru Village and Community Association opposes the shift from land value to capital value.
It also states that the rate increases proposed in the draft long-term plan are “unfair and binding” on the community. Residents of Tokomaru have faced rate increases in the plan’s first year of 30% or more, with many residents’ rates expected to double over the plan’s 10-year life.
Other issues raised by the bidders was a plan to contribute $ 500,000 from the Foxton Beach Freeholding Account to the Te Awahou Project – a library, community center and museum in Foxton.
The account is a holdover from Borough Council days, with its funds set aside for projects that benefit Foxton Beach residents.
One of those residents, Christina Paton, told council not to touch the freehold account.
“Once you have used this fund to bring Foxton Beach infrastructure up to standard, you may consider offering it elsewhere in the Kere Kere area.”
The Foxton Community Board submission said it unanimously supports the use of funds from the freehold accounts on Te Awahou.
President Janine Smart wrote “that it is essential for our community and our neighborhood that this project goes ahead”.
After the three-day hearing next month, councilors will return later in the month to discuss any changes to the plan as a result of the submissions.
The draft long-term plan must be signed before the end of June.