Councillor Nan Cowling was the lone voice on council opposed to a move to spend $40,000 to $45,000 on community consultation for the city's special rate variation.
Councillor Nan Cowling was the lone voice on council opposed to a move to spend $40,000 to $45,000 on community consultation for the city's special rate variation. Trevor Veale

Price to pay for consultation

COMMUNITY consultation on the planned special rate variations for 2015/16 and 2016/17 will cost ratepayers an estimated $40-$45,000.

Following approval for Cr Garry Innes's motion to adopt and implement a public engagement strategy, public consultation on the proposed 8.14% and 7.75% cumulative increases will take place from November through to February.

General manager Steve McGrath said the council had to notify the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal in December of its intention to apply for a special rate variation (SRV) and evidence of in-principle support for the rate rise was required by February.

Last year the council applied for a three-year cumulative series of rate increases, but IPART approved only the first year's rise, expressing dissatisfaction with the clarity of information provided to the public.

Mr McGrath said applying for the rate rise did not commit the councillors to levying the full or indeed any amount, and there were a number of decision points along the road ahead.

He said the council's Transition to Sustainability program, now under way, was designed to peg back the rate of increase in the council's yearly running costs, whereas the proposed special rate variation was designed to provide extra revenue to tackle the council's infrastructure backlog.

Cr Nan Cowling was a lone voice in opposing the move, saying many local budgets were already stretched to breaking point and the council was already conducting public consultation on a proposed SRV for a new entertainment centre, library and art gallery.



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