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Council informs residents of the impact of the proposed drinking and wastewater policy

13 May 2024

Buller District Council has informed residents about the possible impact if council changes how to rate for drinking and wastewater as proposed in the Draft Enhanced Annual Plan 2024/25.

Approximately 800 letters landed in people’s letterboxes this week so ratepayers could see the changes to their targeted rates for drinking and wastewater if the changed policy is adopted next month.  

Impacted residents were also informed via email last week if that was their preferred way to be contacted.  

As part of the Draft Enhanced Annual Plan 2024/25 consultation, Council is seeking feedback on the policy on how to rate for drinking water and wastewater.

The proposed policy changes the way “multi residential” and “multi commercial” “differentials” for water and wastewater targeted rates, as well as “major users” rates are charged.

Mayor Jamie Cleine says, “How Council has rated for water and wastewater has not changed for many years. Rates reviews over the past 10 years have shown that property owners are currently rated inequitably for these services.”

Currently, a property with more than one house on the same rating unit pays a reduced charge for each extra house.  For example, one section of land with two houses only pays 1.7 water rates instead of 2.

Mayor Jamie Cleine says: “If the change goes ahead, it will align the policy more closely with the methods for charging targeted rates as set out in the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 that are widely applied in other districts.”

The proposal includes charging a half rate when the service is available, but not connected to a property.

If the proposed policy is adopted, the total number of ratepayers and the total number of connections sharing the costs for drinking and wastewater would increase.  This, in turn, would reduce the fixed charges for wastewater and drinking water for each connection or rating unit.

If the policy does not go ahead, the current system will remain, and since there would be fewer ratepayers to divide the costs between, it would ultimately mean the rates would increase for each existing ratepayer.

Mayor Jamie Cleine emphasised “The total rates collected do not change whether the proposed policy or the existing policy is adopted, it is simply the number of ratepayers contributing to the cost of running those supplies that change.

The proposed rate increase is still 19.7% overall, but if more ratepayers share the cost, then other ratepayers will pay less.

Mayor Jamie Cleine says: “We understand that it can be quite a shock for people to receive a letter with yet another increase to their living expenses.”

Each letter includes a form for ratepayers to send to council with requests to update their information if ratepayers believe the information in their letter needs to be updated.

Residents can express their views on the proposed policy change until the 20 May 4:30pm by filling out an online or paper submission form enclosed in the letter.

Council has compiled Frequently Asked Questions and staff are also available to answer further questions.

Mayor Jamie Cleine noted: “It has been an enormous undertaking to collate the data, merge different data sources, create the letters and distribute them across the district. I assure everyone that these letters were sent out as early as possible.”

Residents either received one or two letters informing them about the proposed change to the way the water and wastewater rates are applied for their property and the potential change in these rates.

The increase stated in the letters is built into the location-specific rate increase incorporated in the Draft Enhanced Annual Plan 2024/25 Consultation Document.

Council will consider all submissions and, after hearings, make any necessary changes to the Draft Enhanced Annual Plan 2024/25 during the June deliberations.

If the policy does get adopted and residents have not received a letter, it does not necessarily mean residents will not be charged in the future, due to ongoing amendments to the database.

The Enhanced Annual Plan 2024/25 will be adopted at the June Council meeting and will become effective on 1 July 2024.

Notes to the reader

Council has used information provided by Quotable Value NZ alongside merged data from the Geographic Information System (GIS or WestMaps) and the Rating Information Database to calculate the proposed drinking water and wastewater rates policy change.


For further information, please contact:
Buller Mayor
Jamie Cleine