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Council adopts changes to rates policies

Published: 16 February 2021

Napier CBD Street July 2019 12

Today Napier City Council unanimously voted to adopt changes to its rates policies, after undertaking its first significant review of the policies since 2001 and extensively consulting with the community on its proposals.

Changes to the Revenue & Financing Policy, Rating Policy, Rates Remissions Policy and Rates Postponement Policy were proposed in 2020 to address historic anomalies and better reflect Napier’s current residential, commercial and rural zones.

Council undertook seven weeks of community consultation on its proposals, which would affect the rates assessed on each individual property in Napier.

The main proposals consulted on were to change the way the General Rateis calculatedfor each property, including reducing General Rates categories from six to three and changing the percentage weighting of some categories to provide a simpler and more consistent approach to rates.

Additionally, it was proposed that the Stormwater charge be removed from General Rates and instead a new Stormwater Targeted Rate be introduced.

Based on the feedback received from ratepayers, Council has amended its original proposal to reduce rating categories from six to three. Instead it has opted to reduce from six to four categories, these being Residential/Other, Commercial & Industrial, Rural, as well as a category not proposed in the consultation – Rural Residential. Additionally, Council voted to apply a lower weighting of 90% to the Rural Residential category, compared to 100% for the Residential/Other category, which these properties were originally proposed to be included in.

“The decision to amend our original proposals was a direct result of feedback from affected residents who live semi-rurally. We acknowledge their viewpoint that rural residential properties are not the same as suburban properties,” says Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise.

“Rural Residential has been introduced as a transitional category. We plan to consult with our community on whether to use land value or capital value as a basis for rating properties in the future. This transitional category can be considered again at that time.”

Council also debated the merits of increasing the Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC), which is a fixed charge for all ratepayers, of $375 per property. The UAGC is currently set at 20% of Council’s total rates revenue. In order to smooth out the effects of rates changes on ratepayers most negatively impacted, Council agreed today to increase the UAGC to 22% of all rates revenue. This amounts to $383 per property.

Other changes adopted today that differ from the original proposal consulted on, include reducing the percentage weighting of the Commercial & Industrial category from 268.09% to 260%. The original proposal was to reduce this to 250%.

“All of Council’s amendments to the original proposals seek to strike a balance between addressing ratepayers’ concerns and smoothing out the complex historical rating categories this Council inherited when it amalgamated with Hawke’s Bay County Council more than 30 years ago,” says Mayor Wise.

Council also agreed today that changes to the General Rate for all properties, whether an increase or decrease, will be phased in equal increments over three years, beginning 1 July 2021, excluding any annual rates increase. The 2% increase to the UAGC will be fully implemented at 1 July 2021.

Furthermore, an existing rates remission provision has been amended, to define “a significant increase” as 25% or more over the current assessed rates for a single property. This is for remissions to smooth the effects of rates increases.

“Many Napier residential and commercial properties will see a small decrease in their rates as a result of the amended policies adopted today, and some will see an increase. I encourage anyone who is having trouble meeting their rates obligations to speak with us to see how we can help,” says Mayor Wise.

The amended policies and the resulting changes to rates invoices will take effect from 1 July 2021.

Further information on rates, including remissions and postponements, can be found at keyword search #rates.

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