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Council set to balance the budgets

Across the country councils are signalling double digit rate rises and it will be revealed if Ashburton joins the club tomorrow.

The first long-term plan (LTP) budget workshop will set the scene for the priorities and direction of the Ashburton District Council for the next 10 years, and what that will mean for the ratepayers.

Interest rates and inflation costs are hitting councils and producing forecasts of double-digit rate raises as part of their long-term plan discussions.

It seems unlikely Ashburton will be an exception, considering annual inflation is sitting at 5.6% and community expectations.

The council’s LTP pre-engagement, aimed to identify the issues or areas of concern for the community, had almost 1000 survey responses and four workshops.

Suggestions coming through included introducing green waste bins and public transport services, as well as the perennial increase in road expenditure for the perceived pothole problem.

All things that will increase rates, on top of the external financial pressures, further.

Local Government NZ president and Selwyn District Mayor Sam Broughton told RNZ he expects many other councils to present double-digit rate rises in the coming weeks and months including his own.

“I haven’t seen the need for rates rises of this level since I’ve been elected since 2010,” Broughton said.

He wanted to see more funding tools for councils available soon, including fuel taxes, and congestion charges, and to see details on city and regional deals with central government that National had promised in the election.

By Jonathan Leask