Far North jobs would be at risk if rates rise reduced - mayor

9:56 am on 4 June 2020

Cutting next year's rates in a post-Covid-19 reset would mean local job losses according to John Carter, Far North District Council (FNDC) Mayor.

Seven-year-old Lyreena Heta helps Far North Mayor John Carter cut the ribbon for Kerikeri Primary School’s new classroom block.

Contractors and council staff might lose their jobs if the Far North District Council has a lower rates take, Maoyor John Carter says. [file pic] Photo: Northern Advocate / Peter de Graaf

"That would not improve our economy or our recovery," he said.

His comments come ahead of the council's meeting tomorrow to formally debate rates for the new financial year starting on 1 July.

"The reality is that we are a significant service provider that directly and indirectly employs hundreds of Far North residents.

"Tightening our belt by reducing rates would inevitably mean contractors and our own staff would lose their jobs."

FNDC had been planning a 3.94 percent rates increase for the coming year pre-Covid-19.

Carter is not saying what the council plans to do about any change to this at its 2020/2021 Annual Plan deliberations meeting - ahead of formally adopting the final rates decision and plan on 30 June.

"At this stage, it would be inappropriate for me to discuss the details of the options being considered ahead of the council's 5 June deliberations or the final decision on rates due on 30 June."

Councillors have had two workshops to consider rating options for the coming year.

"Far North District Council is aware that many ratepayers are facing economic hardship due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing drought," Carter said.

FNDC would not need to consult on any changes to the 2020/2021 rates.

Carter would not be drawn on how much income the council expected to lose in 2020/2021 due to the impact of Covid-19.

"It is worth noting [however] that Far North District Council does not have significant alternative revenue streams, such as a port, income from parking charges, or an investment portfolio."

Other councils that received income from sources like these may be more significantly impacted by a pandemic-related economic downturn, Carter said.

FNDC's initially-planned rates increase for 2020/2021 is slightly less than it said would be introduced for the year during 10-year long-term planning covering this period. This longer term planning indicated a 4 percent increase.

It is the only Northland council to initially set its coming year's rates below what it said would be happening in its 2018-2028 Long Term Plan.

Carter said Friday's meeting would also include consideration of whether council continued sourcing funding to cover asset depreciation from rates.

FNDC had been exploring ways to reduce costs to minimise rate increases. It had worked through options alongside Local Government New Zealand and the government.

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