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COMMENTS FROM THE MAYOR - Revenue and Finance Policy Consultation Update

I and Councillors would like to thank everyone who has provided input and comments throughout the Christmas and New Year’s break into the Revenue and Finance Policy currently out for consultation, most people think is just about rates increases and I just want to clarify a few things. 

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This is a consultation process for a proposed Revenue and Finance Policy. Councils are required by the Local Government Act 2002 to have an approved Revenue and Financing Policy adopted by Council in the run up to the Long Term Plan (LTP).

The Revenue and Finance Policy provides predictability and certainty about sources and levels of funding.  Funding sources include fees, charges, borrowings and rates.

Rates modelling forms part of this policy and at the end of the day – this is a proposal and we want to get your feedback. 

The Wairoa District Council will be looking at its LTP this year and we will be consulting with the community in late March, hence the need to undertake this process with the proposed Revenue and Finance Policy now.

 We knew the proposed changes to this Policy would be controversial, but I want to commend Councillors for having the courage to at least have this conversation with the community. 

We know we have a complicated rating system, and this is a proposal looking at simplifying our rating system and making it more fairer and more equitable for the whole community of Wairoa. 

Again – this is just a proposal. These proposed changes are not about Council getting more rates, council can only rate for what it needs to run the district, not make a profit.

These proposed changes are about creating a simpler, more equitable system, but unfortunately as we all know with any changes with rate, there are winners and losers.  

 I can assure you, there is no devious plan to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, or try to slip this under the radar, contrary to a lot of talk around town. 

The timing over the Christmas and New Year period was so that we could have a policy in place before we go out with our Long Term Plan Consultation at the end of March to meet statutory deadlines. 

There is no rushing this process through and yes, I and Councillors have heard your feedback about the time frames.

We have decided to extend the consultation period for the Revenue and Finance Policy from the 22nd of January through to the 9th of February to allay any concerns from residents that this process is being rushed through. 

Again I want to make this clear, there is no devious or secret plan to have this rushed through. These comments are completely false and untrue.

 We know our rating system is complex and we heard feedback last year about how unfair it seems. 

The Revenue and Finance Policy was an opportunity to address this. We acknowledge that the proposed changes to the current policy signalled some significant rates increases out at Mahia and in the rural areas, but interestingly, many properties in the Wairoa township saw a ‘proposed’ decrease in their rates under the proposed policy, but again, this is just a proposal. 

If the community wishes to maintain the complexity of our system and keep things how they are, then all good, if the community wants to make significant changes to the policy, then all good, if the community wants to make minor tweaks here and there, then all good.

At the end of the day, it is up to the community to provide us with feedback to help us decide, and I can assure you that this Council will be listening and will make its decision based on what the community would like us to do. 

But remember, you have to be careful what you wish for, so I really encourage the community to engage with the process in a genuine and meaningful way so that your Council can make the best decision for the whole community of Wairoa.

 In extending the public consultation process for the Finance and Revenue Policy we have also expanded the number of community meetings and made changes to venues to ensure we get a fairer spread of locations and opportunities for feedback. 

We will now have community meetings in Nuhaka, Wairoa township, Raupunga and Tuai from the 29th of January through to the 1st of February. 

In deciding to hold a meeting in Nuhaka rather than Mahia, Council believed this to be a more central location for people to get to. Details about venues and times will be confirmed and will also be publicised on our website, social media and in the Wairoa Star.

 Finally – I want to thank everyone who has engaged in this consultation process in a practical and productive way. 

We have already received some really well informed and considered submissions and I want to encourage the community to continue to submit to the proposal. 

In light of the extended timeframes, if you have already submitted on the proposal and believe you did not have enough time to make a more considered submission, we also encourage you to send in another submission. 

This process is about making sure the community is able to engage genuinely in this process.

There has been a bit of stirring out there with misinformation and talk that is simply untrue. 

No decisions have been made, we are simply following the law in consulting the community on our Revenue and Finance Policy so that we can also start looking at consultation for our LTP. 

The proposal is a courageous and controversial policy to look at making our rating system simpler, fairer and more equitable. 

This is a conversation we need to have with our community and if you don’t want the system to change, then tell us, if you want to make significant changes, then tell us, if you want to make minor changes here and there, then tell us. 

We need your feedback to help us make the best decision for the whole community of Wairoa, and I assure you, your Council will be guided by your feedback.

For more information go here: https://www.wairoadc.govt.nz/our-council/news/latest-news/article/145

17 January 2018

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