Tauranga City Council has confirmed an annual plan for the 2020/21 year which will see 37% of ratepayers pay less for the rates on their properties.
The mayor and councillors formally adopted the plan today after two rounds of consultation with the community – an unusual step, but one the council felt was necessary after the disruption caused by COVID-19.
The decision came after the council made savings from some parts of its budget while adding support for businesses and community groups identified through consultation.
The annual plan sets the council’s budget and work programme for the year. It includes an investment of $258 million in capital projects and an operating spend of $277 million.
The mayor and councillors confirmed changes to the way rates are calculated, with an updated estimate showing that 38% of residential and 23% of commercial ratepayers will have a reduction. Overall, 37% of ratepayers will pay less rates on their properties.
Rates payments will increase by 1.1% (47 cents a week) for the median residential property and 10.8% ($9.04 a week) for the median commercial property, for an overall rates budget increase of 4.7%.
These changes apply to the year starting 1 July 2020.
Mayor Tenby Powell acknowledged that the owners of higher-valued properties and businesses would pay relatively more for their rates. However, the council wanted to protect the owners of lower-valued properties from rates rises during a challenging time for jobs and household incomes.
The mayor said the annual plan would allow the council to continue providing critical services while investing in our city’s future in a way that supported businesses, jobs and our local economy.
“This plan has been prepared at a very difficult time – and not just because of COVID,” he said.
“We have a crucial role to play in the wellbeing of our community, while addressing a wide range of complicated issues that come with growth.
“It’s important that we continue investing in key infrastructure through our capital programme. This will provide for our city’s future while supporting the local economy – providing jobs and flow-on benefits to our wider community.”
Among other initiatives confirmed during the annual plan process, the council is offering free on-street parking in the city centre until November, with a newly introduced two-hour time limit, to support retailers facing a post-COVID economy.
Funding has been added to the budget for economic development, community services, sustainability, the free parking initiative and other areas identified by the public during consultation.
Responding to community feedback on the draft annual plan, the council will increase funding to community groups and services including Awhina House, the Kāinga tupu homelessness strategy, the Tauranga Community Housing Trust, Envirohub, Tauranga Community Foodbank, and the Incubator Creative Hub.
The mayor said community groups provided crucial support to the wider community, and he supported future discussions about funding such groups in a more strategic way.
The changes to rates calculations are related to the Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC) and the commercial differential.
The UAGC is a fixed charge for every property, and a reduction from $475 to $296 per year will make rates more affordable for people with lower-value properties, while people with higher-value properties will pay relatively more.
The commercial differential has been set at 1:1.2. This means that businesses will pay $1.20 in general rates for every $1 paid by homeowners for properties of the same value. This is lower than in New Zealand’s other major cities, and recognises that commercial properties can benefit more from council infrastructure than residential properties.
Because of delays created by COVID-19, the annual plan was adopted later than usual.
Ratepayers can see details of the rates payments on their properties at www.tauranga.govt.nz/property-search.
Information about rates rebates and remissions can be found on the council’s website.