3.95% rates increase is lower than forecast

The Invercargill City Council this afternoon approved its 2017-2018 budget, with a rates rise of 3.95%, which is below the 4.7% proposed at the beginning of public consultation.

The Chairman of the Finance and Policy Committee, Cr Darren Ludlow, said the Council had reviewed the proposed projects, their costs and whether further savings could be made.

“A major factor in keeping the rates increase lower than forecast was the $550,000 increased dividend from Invercargill City Holdings Limited (up from an expected $200,000),” he said. “This brings the total dividend Invercargill City Holdings pays to the City each year to $5,850,000.”

Councillors had also received 60 written and electronic submissions and listened to verbal submissions from people, before making the final decisions about the budget.  Cr Ludlow thanked the people who had taken time to contribute to the submission process.

The Council consulted on six key items, which were variances to Council’s 2015-2025 Long Term Plan. These were:

  • The Stead Street Stopbank;
  • Proposed Events Funding Increase;
  • Festive Winter Lights;
  • $500,000 for Invercargill Development;
  • Upgrades and changing rooms at Splash Palace;
  • Fee changes for the Invercargill Waste Transfer Station.

The following decisions made:

Stead Street Stopbank – approved
The Stead Street Stopbank will be renewed and upgraded at an estimated cost of $1.33 million. The project will be loan funded and will mean better protection from flooding and storm surge for the Invercargill Airport and the residential area of Otatara.

Proposed Events Funding Increase – not approved
Prior to consultation, the Council’s preferred option was to increase the Events Fund by $50,000. The Council discussed the importance of events and encouraging Invercargill to be a vibrant, exciting place to live and visit. Councillors considered submissions and noted there was strong public support for encouraging vibrancy throughout the City.

The Council decided not to increase the Events Fund by $50,000.  This would result in a decrease of 0.1% to the 2017-2018 rates proposed in the Draft Annual Plan. It also determined to review the Events Fund process and criteria.

Festive Winter Lights – not approved
Council discussed the positive feedback that had been received from members of the community following the installation of festive lights over the Christmas period. The Councillors considered submissions and noted that some submitters encouraged Council to install festive lights in other areas of the City. Councillors discussed that while this was an idea worth considering, it was not affordable in the current year. Council decided to display existing lights at Christmas only.

Development Funding – approved
The Invercargill City Council is committed to enhancing our City and embracing innovation.  In the 2017-2018 year the Council is allocating $500,000 towards developing and initiating Invercargill development proposals. These proposals may include things such as the new Art Centre and a Kakaporium to operate alongside the Tuatarium.  The $500,000 is to be funded through the City Centre Redevelopment Reserve Fund that is held for the purpose of invigorating the CBD.

Upgrades and changing rooms at Splash Palace – approved
Splash Palace is used by many residents and visitors to the city. At peak times there is not enough space in the changing rooms for all the users. Council has determined to build additional changing rooms, upgrade the cafe and foyer and complete other external works at a cost of $1.4 million.  This is to be loan funded.  The additional changing rooms will increase the space available, provide the ability to close a changing room to adequately clean it without affecting patrons and to maintain an overall higher level of cleanliness.

Fee Changes for Invercargill Waste Transfer Station – approved
The Council has decided to increase the Transfer Station fee by $20 per tonne to offset increased disposal expenditure and lower volumes going through the Transfer Station.  The increase in fee will result in an approximately $3.60 increase for a 180kg trailer load of waste.

In addition to approving the 2017-2018 Annual Plan, the Council approved the 2017-2018 Fees and Charges for Council activities and Council Controlled Organisations.  These are effective from 1 July 2017.  It also approved the 2017-2018 Rates Resolution to set the rates for the new financial year.