Council again stays under rates-rise cap

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THE Clutha District Council will not exceed its rates cap, despite this week approving nearly $7 million in funding for annual plan projects.

Councillors debated requests and proposals for funding in next year’s plan for more than seven hours in Balclutha on Thursday last week.

Items up for discussion ranged from $1500 for a Catlins community group’s printing costs to $2.5 million towards the new Clutha Community Hub in Balclutha.

All requests but one were approved, despite which the provisional overall rates increase next year remains under the council’s self› imposed 4% cap, at 3.93%.

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said he was proud of the council’s record in maintaining the cap.

‘‘Although we’ve had to make some compromises over the years to keep rates affordable, today, like every other time, we haven’t blinked on our community.

‘‘We’ve continued to fund multiple projects while remaining under 4%.

‘‘I believe we can be proud of that record, particularly as you look at increases elsewhere.’’

A total of $6,894,000 was allocated during the meeting, funded from a Three Waters ‘‘Better Off’’ support package grant of $3.27 million, council reserves and investment surpluses.

Key beneficiaries of the Three Waters grant were the proposed Milton community pool and library ($1.9 million) and stage two of the Balclutha streetscape project ($1.3 million), which will provide landscaping and car parking for the Clutha Community Hub.

The hub itself received a further council grant of $2.5 million, which will be matched by government regional economic development and investment unit Kanoa.

West Otago civic improvements were given a kick›start following the district’s recently concluded community plan consultation.

Councillors voted unanimously to allocate $220,000 of the council investment fund surplus to eight community›nominated projects.

Specific project approvals and budget allocations will be finalised later this year.

The council will adopt the annual plan and strike rates at its next meeting, on June 9.