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Proposed average rates increase set to drop by a third

WDC QRS combo

The Wairoa District Council’s proposed rate increase is set to reduce by a third following a projected increased shareholder distribution from QRS.

The locally-based contracting company is a Council Controlled Trading Organisation (CCTO), with the proposed increased contribution decision made at the QRS board meeting on Tuesday.

The planned contribution will offset the proposed rate increase, with the new proposed average increase now likely to be just under 10 per cent, well under the initial proposed increase of 15.4 per cent.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said the intended increased QRS dividend would be used prudently to offset the cost escalations and mitigate the rates burden. “We will continue to work on our procurement policies to ensure we deliver the best value for the community.

“This again shows the importance of a locally owned contracting company. We saw the benefits of having infrastructure and specialised staff on the ground in Wairoa when we were isolated due to Cyclone Gabrielle. Now our entire community will benefit through this intended increased distribution which is a credit to the QRS board, management and staff. This also demonstrates that QRS is in synch with our community, and we are all very fortunate and grateful that we are in a position to utilise options like this. This planned distribution demonstrates the importance of QRS as a major and locally owned contractor in our district.”

“Last Thursday, when elected members adopted the Wairoa District Council 2023/24 Annual Plan Engagement Document, we were hopeful of a reduction to our original proposed average rate forecast. However, as part of our Annual Plan process, we genuinely wanted to share the situation we were in at that time with our community.

“As we have all seen, post-Cyclone Gabrielle has left a rapidly changing situation, and it has been great to be able to confirm a new proposed average rate now and share that information with the public.

“We signalled from the get-go that we would be pursuing options to reduce the proposed increase, and we will continue to work to gain additional external funding.

“Although we have managed to offset some of the increased costs, it does not take away from the fact that rising costs due to supply and demand issues and increasing inflation have put real pressure on the budgets Council forecasted for this year. It is a situation many Councils across New Zealand are in.”

Mr Little said that for a small population base like Wairoa, we really are caught up in the perfect storm of rising costs plus the impact of severe weather events in 2022, followed by the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle earlier this year. Specific cost increases have been around our share of the roading costs from the 2022 weather events, the need to increase staff remuneration to retain staff and meet the market rate and spiralling landfill costs, particularly the Government’s waste disposal levy for landfills as part of its waste minimisation goal.  This has all placed real pressure on our forecasted budgets. 

“In our 2021-31 Long-Term Plan, we indicated the average rate increase for 2023/2024 would be 7.8 per cent. We did allow for rising costs but did not foresee just how high these increases would be, and we certainly couldn’t predict we would be hit with extreme weather events in 2022 and now Cyclone Gabrielle in 2023.

“As ratepayers, none of us sitting around the Council table want significant increases, but the reality is that costs are spiralling, and we have a lot of work to do and pay for to rebuild and make Wairoa the best it can be.

“Again, I acknowledge that making ends meet and finding additional money to pay a rate increase at this time is something people will not be happy about. We will continue to work hard to secure additional external funding over the coming weeks.

“Our community engagement is underway, and we look forward to meeting with you at the district-wide meetings, answering questions and hearing your ideas.”

For the full Wairoa District Council 2023/24 Annual Plan Engagement Document, please head to

14 June 2023

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