Marlborough plans to exceed rate rise limit over next few years

2:43 pm on 4 January 2020

Marlborough District Council is planning to bust its own limit on rates rises in each of the next three financial years.

Marlborough District Council chief executive Mark Wheeler says this is not the first time Kaikōura ratepayers have wanted out.

Marlborough District Council chief executive Mark Wheeler. Photo: Chloe Ranford / LDR

The annual report shows it exceeded its self-imposed cap of a 4.06 percent increase in the 2018-19 financial year - but only by a marginal 0.09 percent.

In the current year ending July, it has kept the rate rise below that level, at 3.62 percent.

But for the 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23 financial years, the long-term plan states the council will ask more of its ratepayers than its limit of 4.06 percent.

Council chief executive Mark Wheeler said the cap on rates rises was self-imposed, and the council had made a "conscious decision" to exceed it in the coming years.

He said it needed to complete major capital expenditure projects to deal with Marlborough's growth.

Those included Renwick's new water plant, new water and sewerage infrastructure in Picton, and the upgrading of stormwater and wastewater infrastructure in northwest Blenheim.

The district councillors signed off on the annual report in late October, in their first act as a group after the local government election.

Chief financial officer Martin Fletcher told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the council was sitting on more than $1.82 billion in assets and its debt had dropped from about $20 million last year to $12.6 million.

"I would love to have that assets-to-debt ratio at home," Fletcher said.

He said the Marlborough District Council had also scored a long-term credit rating of AA, which meant its ability to meet its financial commitments was "very strong".

"The only reason we're limited to an AA rating and not an AA-plus rating is because the New Zealand Government has an AA rating, and we cannot go higher than the New Zealand Government," Fletcher said.

Wheeler said councils could not be rated higher than the government as they could not have more power than New Zealand's governing authority.

no metadata

Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the Newspaper Publishers' Association and NZ On Air.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs