Where oh where do my Council rates go?

17 Apr 2024, 8:34 AM

If someone asked you what your rates pay for, you’d probably be able to name a few things, like maintaining roads and footpaths, fixing leaky pipes, mowing reserves, and looking after pools, sportsgrounds, parks, and playgrounds.

Some of these things may seem more important than others. Some may even seem like “nice to haves”. But while we do need to prioritise the essential services, these and more fall into the social, economic, environmental, and cultural wellbeing of our community we’re tasked with under the Local Government Act 2002

We also make sure we involve you in our decision-making and we’re often the first port of call when things go wrong.

That’s a pretty broad job description!

If you’d asked for a receipt detailing what your rates paid for over the 2022/23 financial year, it might look something like this:

  • welcomed 28,140 customers at our front counters around the district
  • answered 42,000 customer phone calls
  • delivered 6,000,000 litres of treated drinking water to households
  • cleaned 8 kilometres of open drains
  • sealed 6 kilometres of local roads
  • maintained more than 120 coastal accessways and 4 kilometres of seawalls
  • looked after more than 200 kilometres of stormwater pipes
  • maintained and provided 100 kilometres of walking trails, cycleways, and bridleways
  • maintained 49 playgrounds and 16 sportsgrounds, ensuring year-round access
  • registered 8,324 dogs
  • had 284,000 visits to our libraries
  • hosted 3,000 people at Movies in the Park
  • planted more than 20,000 native plants, shrubs and trees
  • spent 6,231 hours weedeating and 8,625 mowing
  • greeted 312,000 visitors at our aquatics facilities
  • kept you informed with regular e-newsletters, media articles, web content, and many consultations and community engagement sessions.

That’s… a lot. And it’s expensive – our capital works programme alone has a proposed budget of $89.5 million for 2024/25. 

We don’t have income-generating assets like some councils, so 70 percent of our income comes from your rates.

The rest comes from grants and subsidies, fees and charges, development and financial contributions, and other operating revenue. It’s always a balancing act to provide services that meet the expectations of our community while also still being affordable for ratepayers.

That’s why a lot of work goes into our planning and budgeting to ensure we’re meeting our performance goals, including what we’ll do, how often, and at what cost – or what we call ‘levels of service’. These goals drive how we deliver on our promises, and how much we invest in each activity. This, of course, has an impact on rates.

So what can you do?

We’re now consulting on our Long-term Plan 2024–34 (LTP), which details the big projects we’ve got in the works and how we plan to pay for them, while also keeping the district humming along.

Rates are just one part of the picture. You’re an important piece too – that’s why we’re encouraging you to have your say during the LTP consultation, which is open until midnight Sunday 28 April. Write your thoughts down, fill in an online submission, or come and talk to us – help us ensure a sustainable and resilient future for the Kāpiti we all love.