Proposed rates bills galloping ahead of inflation

Federated Farmers is concerned that the Hawkes Bay Regional Council will be diverting farmers’ finances away from on-farm environmental actions and towards rates bills instead. 

The Hawkes Bay Regional Council has advertised an average rate rise of 19% in their Long Term Plan, but for farmers the increase will be much worse. 

Just by way of example, the Dasent farm in Hastings District will experience a 33% increase for total rates compared to what we paid last year. Our bill for the general rate mechanism alone will increased by 131%.   

That is by no means untypical of the future imposts on the way.

The Long Term Plan financial statements indicates that the amount collected from ratepayers in the region via the general rate (struck on the land value of a ratable property) is jumping from $1.73 million to $4.25 million this year. 

Part of the general rate will be used by the Council to fund “Environmental kick-start projects”. 

Last year the Council told us these kick start projects would require a one-off 10% average rates increase, in order to fund the clean-up of particular waterways, such as Lake Tutira. 

However, it looks as though the Council has a different idea to Federated Farmers as to what “one-off” means, as the increases to fund these projects are becoming imbedded into the rates system. 

Average rates increases of 10% one year, 19% the next year and so on, are not sustainable for ratepayers, who are often trying to make do with less themselves.   These increases are more than five and ten times the current rate of inflation, and reduce the discretionary spending power of those hit with the bills.

Farmers are being asked to put more effort into doing their bit by fencing and riparian planting, and farmers in the Tukituki catchment have to produce individual Farm Environment Management Plans by May this year. 

Continual rates increases are damming the flow of investment into on-farm environmental actions. 

Rhea Dasent - Federated Farmers Senior Policy Advisor