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Source: Environment Canterbury Regional Council

Rates example

For example, under option one, a farmer in the Ashburton District with a property worth $4.96 million would pay $4678.37 in the 2021-22 year, $735.85 more than this year. That’s an additional $14.15 a week.

Under option two, that same ratepayer would pay an extra $606.31, or a total of $4548.83 for the year. $11.66 a week.

The two options proposed in the draft Long-Term Plan layout $246.54 million of work in the 2021-22 year (option 1), or $240.19 million in the 2021-31 year (option 2). Our current spend is around $200 million per annum.

What I am trying to illustrate is that for an additional $11.66 a week (for example) you would be contributing to another $40 million of work over the year.

Whichever way you look at it, the proposed rises for farmers are not insignificant – daunting, even, for some. The council wants to keep rates – which account for a little under 60% of our income – affordable, but the challenge is being able to make progress with key programmes for our communities.

Getting the right balance is difficult and the affordability debate has been hot around our council table.

Other sources of income

The rest of our income comes from user-pays, and central government grants (mostly for public transport). We can also use council reserves and we have the option to borrow money for some activity.

Farmers, as business owners, will understand better than most that, while these may better spread the impact of rates rises across several years, they both have fishhooks in terms of repayments and potentially not having sufficient reserves for when you really need them.

Talking of reserves, in both the options put forward in the draft Long-Term Plan, we have allowed for some top-ups. Particularly for flood control and civil defence – both essential for keeping communities safe.

The Council is fronting up to the climate emergency and its environmental and societal repercussions. 

Have your say

The draft Long-Term Plan is open for consultation with our community until 11 April, and we are keen to hear from you. Tell us what you like and what you don’t like.

For more information, or to make a submission head to