2022/23 Annual Plan FAQs

The Annual Plan for 2022/23 is based on Year 2 of the 2021-31 Long Term Plan and also informs this year’s rates increase.

Council held engagement with the public in May and adopted the plan on 30 June. It was supported by an engagement pullout in the Midweek and Times Age (4 & 5 May).

We received a large number of questions through the Annual Plan process, and some of the most commonly asked are produced below:

What is your position on 3 Waters?

Small district councils like the South Wairarapa cannot afford to maintain its rapidly failing water infrastructure.  This is an issue across most of New Zealand.

Government has presented a solution in the form of 3 Waters and after a period of engagement intends to introduce legislation to Parliament to enact the reforms. 

This topic is regularly discussed at Council meetings, and we continue to interrogate the detail of the planned reforms so as to understand the likely impact on our region. Information available is shared on our website.

We’d like to see more jobs for young people, what is Council doing?

Mayors’ Taskforce For Jobs is a successful initiative for young people. Its core cost is covered by MSD, which Council supports and manages. This has been really successful with over 50 jobs  found for our young people in  2021, with another 30+ in April alone.

We’d like to see more social housing, what is Council doing?

Social housing is an LTP conversation and has been added to the topics we will cover in the next Long Term Plan in 2024/25.

How do we make our town safer (roads/crime/drug use/violence/etc?)

The Mayor has been advocating strongly on this with the Police to have more constables stationed in Wairarapa, including South Wairarapa.

NZTA Waka Kotahi is investing strongly in road safety with Road to Zero being a big part of its current work programme. Speed limit reviews are an example of how we are managing road safety.

Council supports and works with WAY (What About You), a Wairarapa initiative linking youth and health services aimed at reducing alcohol and drug use.

What will happen if we have another Covid-19 wave – will you use vaccination certificates again?

Council is guided by the Ministry of Health (MoH) guidelines and policies in this regard. The current position from the Ministry of Health under Alert Level Orange is that self-care and management is crucial in controlling Covid numbers and slowing down the spread. This includes masking and social distancing. Self-isolating when you’ve contracted Covid-19 ensures there is minimal spread to others.

Can we have channel and curbing at the south end of Reading St – just one side would be a help.

Noted. Works are programmed with the Orchards Retirement Village to improve infrastructure along Reading Street in the vicinity of the Village and Greytown School.

Where is the public signage that needs to be rebranded? How much has been budgeted for this?

All public signs needed updating following the rebrand of Council’s logo design and layout. Some were completed in 2020/21 and the remaining were to be rolled out during 2021/22, approved by FAR (the Finance, Audit and Risk committee).

Some signs are very old, tatty and we are wanting a unified look with our logo which was brought in three years ago. We are doing it in bulk, as a one-off project. It is budgeted in the current financial year. There is $20,000 allocated for this work, which has commenced and is led by Cr Hay. Refer to actions points from FAR meetings.

Urban ratepayers are the reason water is a concern. Shouldn’t the numbers be based on number of people connected to water systems?

The numbers are based on the number of properties connected (some properties have more than one connection and are charged for each connection) or have water pipes running past the property – all those that can be connected. For properties that could be but aren’t connected, they are rated at a discount.  The number of properties levied at the increased amount is 4,248 connected and 138 serviceable. Some rural properties connected to the water supply will be included in this number.

Council said it would identify savings from this year to offset the rates increase in the Annual Plan. How many savings have been identified year to date, and will more be possible by the end of the financial year?

The options for 2021/22 savings put to Council were as below. However, no specific savings were chosen/approved:

Possible cost savings 2021/22

Adjust timing of additional resourcing $45K
Delay commencement of the Representation Review until Year 2 $30K
Delay commencement of the Rates Review until Year 2$60K
Adjust budget for Māori Liaison commencement$50K
Delay the project to digitisation of historical files$40K
Revise the Economic Development budget$45K
Reduce budget for facilities repairs and maintenance$58K
Total potential operational savings$328K

Why have the $328K of savings identified for the 21/22 year not been saved, to date?

Savings have been made. The $328kL were savings that we could make when we consulted the public and it depended on their feedback. To date, we’ve saved about $250K and we won’t know until the end of the financial year how much has been saved.

If at the end of June 2022, the 2021-22 budget for the ringfenced items put forward in November 2021 has not been used then the budget will be carried over, and correspondingly can reduce the amount needing to be rated in the 2022-23 Annual Plan. As the financial year has not yet finished, we cannot guarantee this from an accounting perspective. On 30 June 2022 the final Annual Plan put to Council for adoption will have the adjustments from cost savings incorporated, with unused, ringfenced budgets carried over into the new financial year, and therefore rates levied will be reduced slightly by the amounts carried forward.

On p.7 of the engagement document (Where is your money going?), the table records AP 22/23 budget has increased by $1.1m over what was planned in the LTP, while $363-68 has been trimmed from the LTP budget. Is this correct and where have those costs been trimmed from?

The current proposed budget for operating expense is $26.8m, as compared to $26.1m in Year 2 of the LTP, an increase of $0.7m. From the LTP Year 2 budgets, some activities have reduced their operating expenses, some have increased.

ActivityLTP Y2 Budget ($)Annual Plan Proposed Budget ($)Increase / (decrease) ($)
Governance           2,223,301             2,327,660   104,359 
Planning and Regulatory Services           3,305,553             3,202,503(103,050)
Community Facilities and Services           7,391,942             7,320,522(71,420)
Land Transport           6,293,928             6,105,030(188,898)
Water Supply           3,857,582             4,262,412   404,830
Wastewater           2,578,648             2,912,258   333,610
Stormwater Drainage              422,032                615,235   193,203
Other                21,180                  28,000        6,820
Total      26,094,165         26,773,620   679,455

Note: figures have been rounded so totals may not add up exactly

My rates have increased by a very large percentage over the last three years. Why have they increased so much and what are you doing to reduce them? What do I actually get for my money?

Cost-savings have been made wherever possible, and for 2022/23 we are sticking to the 2021-31 LTP year 2 priorities. That LTP was very tight, no vanity projects were adopted with work such as road seals/ extensions and mowing berms removed.

Your rates are used to provide all the services the region has access to:

Uniform Annual general Charge (UAGC)* Libraries
* Cemeteries
* Senior housing
* Economic & community activities
* Elements of public protection (building bylaws, environmental health)
Uniform Annual Charge (UAC)Pays for the district’s
* parks and reserves
* swimming pools
* community buildings
* public toilets
General RateThe cost of these activities is split between urban and rural rating units. This is the only Council rate that is based on land value. The General Rate pays for the district’s
* roads
* stormwater
* drainage
* the remainder of the district’s governance costs
* elements of resource management (district planning) and animal control that are not covered by income from fees such as planning consent and dog registration fees.

For this rate a ‘differential’ is applied, to each dollar of rateable land value, to determine the cost per rating unit. This is where an above average increase in land value would result in an above average increase in the General Rate applied.
The revaluation completed in September 2020 showed that urban land values had increased more than rural land, except for lifestyle blocks which had a significant increase.
Therefore, urban, commercial, industrial and lifestyle units have had above average increases in their General Rates.

‘Governance’ expenditure rose $300K over the last year. The rates review was already funded in the 2021/22 year for $60K and the representation and rates review for $120K. The public meeting on rates stated these projects had been postponed to 2022/23. Will the money be carried over?

Governance, Leadership & Advocacy budget expense has increased by $104,360 from the Y2 LTP budget. This increase is not related to the rates or representation reviews.

We don’t need to carry cost over into 2022/23; it’s budget that could potentially be carried over. If at the end of June 2022, the 2021-22 budget for representation and rates reviews has not been used (as per the current schedule) then the budget will be carried over, and correspondingly can reduce the amount needing to be rated in the 2022-23 Annual Plan. As the financial year has not yet finished, we cannot guarantee this from an accounting perspective. On 30 June 2022 the final Annual Plan put to Council for adoption will have the adjustments from cost savings incorporated, with unused ringfenced budgets carried over into the new financial year, and therefore rates levied will be reduced slightly by the amounts carried forward.

(Following on) The 2022/23 budget has not decreased by these one-off costs and so in effect, they have been funded again. Therefore, there is at least $480K additional funding this year, what is it going to be spent on as there are no priorities identified?

Any savings carried over from 2021/22 will be budgets carried over, but the expense will remain the same. The difference will be in the amount required for rates funding, however, this cannot be confirmed until the financial year has ended. We use a reserve to ringfence the savings and then use that reserve to fund 2022-23 expenses of the same value, thus reducing rates required. The maximum amount of identified potential savings was $328k, across Council’s activities (see table on potential cost savings above)

Why the reduction in grants subsidy income on p. 2 of the engagement document?

The only guaranteed grants & subsidy income is that agreed with Waka Kotahi for land transport subsidies. Programmes such as the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, New Zealand Library Partnership Scheme, and Provincial Growth Fund are agreed after budgets are set for the year so we cannot budget for them. Equally the cost of these programmes (they are net $0 cost to rates) are also not budgeted for. Finance has added a report to Finance, Audit, & Risk Committee each six weeks that shows the effect of removing these income and expense items from the accounts so that a comparison to the set budgets can be seen without the distortion of these unbudgeted items.

Given that rates are not calculated differently by town, how were the different percentage increases calculated by town? Why are the increases differentiated by town when (costs) are not differentiated that way?

The percentage calculations are a genuine average, using actual property data and the difference is due to difference in property values between the three towns.

The urban residential rate differential is the same across all three towns, just as the rural differential is the same for all rural properties, whether small lifestyle block, or large farm. This differential is then applied to land value of properties to levy their General Rate. We have found that there is public interest in the residential rates changes for each of the three towns, so we therefore have applied the proposed rates to all properties currently in the rating database, and then found the average change in each town. The difference is caused by the difference in average land value, which is similar in Martinborough & Greytown, but lower in Featherston. As always with averages, there will be properties with rates changes lower and higher than the average, particularly if the property has changed in the last year, e.g. been subdivided, or if the ratepayer has requested a revaluation.

Why were urban rates illustrated by town in the AP document when income and expenditure is always stated as a district?

Income and expenditure are always spent by significant activity group, and not by town. There is public interest in the rates change split by town so we use the rating information database to model the change per property and calculate the average by town and rural.

The percentage increases should be the same across all towns. Why isn’t it?

As the differential is applied to each dollar of land value, properties with higher land values will experience a higher impact in the change in differential. As the costs of Council rated through the General Rate have increased, higher value properties have experienced a larger increase in their General Rates. If the costs, and therefore differential, had decreased, the higher value properties would have had a larger decrease in General Rate.

What is your reference for the statement that there are 3446 urban residential ratepayers?

Ratepayer’s data has been used for this. It is generally an estimation due to rating unit movements in the district but accurate at the time the data is pulled.

As Community Facilities are not noted as an unusual priority area and the projects stated are ongoing and so funded last year and this, why has the funding increased over $500,000?

Community Facilities & Services budget has decreased from Year 2 of the LTP, not increased.

What are the areas of significant savings as stated at the public meeting in Greytown? If not significant, what are any areas of savings in the 2021/22 budget?

The savings mentioned are those made in the current year (2021-22) that could be carried into 2022-23 to reduce the rates increase in that year (2022-23). The majority of these savings were temporary from delaying projects and the starting date for the new role of Principal Advisor, Māori (referred to as Iwi Liaison Officer in the LTP).

This is in line with the decision made by Council on 17 November 2021. See action point 538.

It has been stated that the budget of $130,000 for the Māori liaison has been ‘saved’, however it is not available to carry forward to 2022/23. Is this correct and why?

The savings mentioned are those made in the current year (2021-22) that could be carried into the following year (2022-23) to reduce the rates increase in that year (2022-23). The majority of these savings were temporary from delaying projects and start date for the new role of Principal Advisor: Māori (referred to Iwi Liaison Officer in the LTP).

This is in line with the decision made by Council on 17 November 2021. See action point 538. This budget is yet to be adopted and will address such questions.

What is the allocated budget in the 2022/23 year for each of the priorities identified in the engagement document?

See the Annual Plan pullout. It has amounts allocated to each significant activity category. These initiatives form part of that.

The AP appears to have missed the correction to the LTP 2021/22 rates dtails in both the income and expenditure (https://swdc.govt.nz/wp-content/uploads/SWDC-Rates-Increase-Ad-V3.pdf). I note this as a discrepancy of -$1.5 million.

The only difference in the rates communications and the LTP statements is GST. Whenever we publish figures, we specify whether GST is included or not.

  • In financial statements we exclude GST in line with financial reporting standards.
  • When communicating the rates people will actually pay, GST is (often but not always) included.

There is no discrepancy, or correction to be made to the income & expense in the LTP.

  • The ‘error’ was in the communication of how the effect of the prior year’s $1.5m loan (rates ‘holiday’ if you like to call it that) would make to what ratepayers paid, and NOT the LTP itself. The LTP was audited as having no material mis-statements.

Regarding the proposed rates increase for LTP 2022/23, last September you reported collecting $22.9m in rates LTP 2021/22 (as above), this is less than the $21.5m you propose for AP 2022/23, so rates are actually going down?

The total rates figures are (rounded to the nearest $’000):

 LTP Y1 2021-22LTP Y2 2022-23Proposed AP 2022-23
Total rates ($ excl. GST)19,921,00021,527,00021,471,000
Total rates ($ incl. GST)22,909,00024,756,00024,691,000

The proposed rates in the Annual Plan are less than was budgeted for Year 2 of the Long Term Plan but more than the current year, being Year 1 of the Long Term Plan.

Would you consider communicating rates increases inclusive of GST as this is how we pay them?

Accounting standards requires us to report financial figures exclusive of GST. Rates increases as it impacts ratepayers is something we have changed to include GST. We stated one title in a graph in our AP engagement document as exclusive of GST but it should have been inclusive –  rates increase examples are reported including GST to help ratepayers to see the actual amount they will pay.  The title of the graph on page 6 of the engagement document has been corrected on our website.

What is your procurement strategy?

We have a 2017 policy on our website which is under review.

There was a report on our district being one of the most affected by rising sea levels – what is the Council doing?

We already have a climate change strategy, and adaptation and mitigation activities are being considered by central and local governments. For example, when planning we don’t allow development in certain coastal areas due to the future impact on these areas.

What is the schedule for public meetings to address the AP?

VenueDateTime 1Time 2
Supper Room, Martinborough24 May10am-12pm5-6.30pm
Anzac Hall/Kiwi Hall, Featherston26 May10am-12pm5-6.30pm
WBS, Greytown27 May10am-12pm5-6.30pm

What is the budget for Council Mark standards and the timetable?

It is budgeted for the next financial year, at around $50K-60K. Council will need to make a decision on this and may decide not to go ahead. It is a project that has been pushed out to ensure we don’t overspend this year.

Why are there no costings attached to the engagement document?

If by ‘costings,’ you mean expenses or budget, we’ve listed our expenses by activity so have provided cost information.  These are at a significant activity level so that it remains relevant to the LTP.

LGOIMAS – you mentioned enquiries have doubled, why do you think that is and how can you minimise them?

A trend analysis of LGOIMAS (Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act requests) has been presented to the FAR committee which can be viewed online. There is increased interest in the work of local government across the motu. Transparency is an important part of the work of local government, and we are working to improve how we share information publicly.

How much money is the Council wasting on climate change?

None, Council invests to mitigate against the effects of climate change.

How did Mayors Taskforce for Jobs come about?

Local Government and the Ministry of Social Development were worried about the impact on youth as we went into Covid. Issues didn’t actually eventuate, but they allowed funding to rural councils to support youth into jobs, and we were one of four trials to engage with youth and find them employment. That was extended to 41 councils and fully funded by MSD, even though it appears on the Council’s balance sheet. There are no costs to Council, but it is a crucial part of our four pillars and economic development strategy. It is on track to achieve 50 youth placements this year.

What is the budget for MTFJ and why is local government paying for job placements when a job seeker is catered for finding a job through central government?

Mayor’s Taskforce is for this current year, and we don’t have guarantee that the scheme will continue beyond 30 June 2022, so we don’t budget for it. Core costs are funded by central government through MSD, and Council is the conduit for administering the programme.

What can we do about derelict buildings in our town?

Building owners are responsible for the care and maintenance of their buildings. Being privately owned, these are outside Council’s responsibility.

Why can’t you do a dog pound with the other Councils?

These options have been explored and a standalone option was considered best and most affordable for our ratepayers.

We’d like to see less pollution of our waterways, what is Council doing?

We are working with GWRC to comply with the water quality requirements set by Taumata Arowai.

Dark Sky – how much is it costing/budget of ratepayers money to change every lightbulb in every town over in SWDC?

All streetlights were converted from sodium to LED in 2018 with a 85% NZTA Waka Kotahi subsidy, and are all dark sky compliant.

What was the final cost for repairing the Woodside to Featherston water main and break down of costs to different departments?

The repair has been successfully completed and, although final invoices are being collated, we understand we are within approved budgets.  Options for a permanent solution are due to be put to Council shortly. The budget was approved by Council on 23 February 2022.

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