HORTICULTURAL properties around the Eastern Bay will be the biggest rates losers in the coming year, facing rises of between 20 and 55 percent.

While the average annual rate rise in each of the three districts is much less – 3.5 percent in Whakatane, 4.25 percent in Opotiki and 3.4 percent in Kawerau – the actual increase varies significantly depending on location and property type.

Kiwifruit orchardists in Opotiki are the hardest hit with the owners of properties valued at more than $9.3 million facing an average rate rise of 55 percent in 2020-21, pushing their rates up from $20,000 a year to $31,000.

In Whakatane, horticultural properties face increases of just over 22 percent, equating to an extra $778 a year.

In comparison rates on pastoral properties will reduce almost 6 percent, or $518 a year.

Residential ratepayers in Whakatane can expect increases of between 4 and 8 percent depending on their property value, Ohope ratepayers face rises of 3 to 6 percent and in Otarawairere an increase of 5 percent is expected.

In outlying towns, the increase ranges from a low of .35 percent in Te Teko to more than 5 percent for high value Matata properties.

The only residential ratepayers to see a reduction are those in Murupara who will see an extra $9 a year in their wallets.

In Opotiki, the urban residents hardest hit are those in the Woodland/Hukutaia area where rates will increase more than 10 percent.

For both Whakatane and Opotiki councils, the average rate rise is slightly lower than that originally signalled thanks to reductions in the uniform annual general charge.

The rises for horticultural properties are due to the large jump in their rateable value over the last three years.

A revaluation of the district by Quotable Value late past year revealed significant variations in how property values had changed.

For example, land values in Murupara increased by 237 percent while pastoral properties, including dairy farms, dropped in value.

Revaluations do not change the total amount of rates that are collected, just how they are divided up amongst ratepayers. So if a property has increased in value proportionally more than others, it will pay proportionally more rates.

Whakatane council staff have worked to minimise the impact of these large changes in value on rates and to try keep rates affordable in the uncertain times caused by Covid-19.

They have reduced the uniform annual general charge by about $30 a year and are proposing to adjust the stepped differential on properties with a capital value of over $15 million.

These properties, under the new valuations, would have been paying significantly lower rates than previously and council staff believe it is fair ratepayers see roughly the same increase or decrease when it is not substantially altering what it delivers. This will also smooth the increase on other properties in the district.

2020 rates winners and losers, Whakatane district

Council staff have also proposed using interest rate savings on its depreciation fund to make a one-off saving and reduce the year’s planned rate hike by 1.78 percent.
Business owners will also see some targeted relief with the council proposing to part-fund the targeted EPIC rate on the central business district.

Currently businesses in the CBD contribute to a targeted $80,000 rate to fund EPIC Whakatane but council staff have proposed to meet them halfway and contribute $40,000 from the Harbour Endowment Fund Reserves.

Consultation on the proposed rates and the wider annual plan will run over three weeks until June 15, with formal adoption on July 15.

Due to Covid-19 level two restrictions the council is unable to consult face-to-face but residents can email submissions to submissions@whakatane.govt.nz, post a submission or hand deliver to council offices or send a message on Facebook.

Kawerau District Council begins its annual plan consultation with residents on Friday. Submissions close on June 30.

Feedback on the Opotiki annual plan closed on Friday.