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Mangawhai Matters: Mangawhai gets stung yet again



8 Aug, 2022


Most years Mangawhai rates increase by a greater percentage by far than the balance of the Kaipara District Council (KDC) area.

This year Mangawhai rates are increasing on average 7.7 percent while the average across the district is 4.9 percent.

This means that Mangawhai ratepayers face rate increases 57 percent higher than the district average.

And, that excludes another massive increase for all ratepayers from the Northland Regional Council (NRC) of 9.1 percent. Over three years the NRC cumulative rate increase for everyone in Northland will be 50 percent. We are now in year two of three and the cumulative increase so far is a hefty 32 percent.

What is most galling about the Mangawhai increases is that so little debate takes place about the reasons, while all hell breaks loose in the west when massive increases in water by meter charges are proposed. (Water meter charges are part of what is known as “targeted rates”, rates that are for specific services, usually to specific areas).

Because of user concerns, water meter charges that were planned to increase by 17.7 percent were cut to 14.2 percent after a staff review.

But back in Mangawhai we can’t find any prior information about the targeted rate increases that we might have debated. Consequently, we were surprised by the Mangawhai wastewater rate increasing by 10.3 percent and stormwater charge by 24.4 percent.

We can’t blame Mangawhai’s councillors for this because right until the rate decision was made, no information appears to have been provided – at council meetings or in council reports – that specifically sets out these increases or the reasons for them.

The district average rate increase (excluding water supply) of 4.7 percent was made up of a 2.5 percent increase in general rates and 11.7 percent increase in targeted rates. Mangawhai’s general rate on average increased by 3.8 percent and targeted rates by 17.3 percent.

After the rates have been set the Council provides a lot of information in its Annual Plan. Among other things, it shows examples of rate increases across the district. Here are some residential areas, land values and rates increases:


· Dargaville: 3.71% to 5.46%; Land Value Sample: $77,000 to $300,000; Rates: $2,305 to $3,371.

· Kaiwaka: 4.78% to 5.47%; Land Value Sample: $110,000 to $360,000; Rates: $2,307 to $3,171.

· Paparoa: 1.18% to 1.96%; Land Value Sample: $127,000 to $300,000; Rates: $1,118 to $1,599

· Mangawhai: 6.37% to 7.08%; Land Value Sample: $170,000 to $530,000; Rates: $2,645 to $$3,998


The Annual Plan shows that total revenue from the stormwater targeted rate is $2.353 million of which Mangawhai pays $1.574 million or 67 percent. KDC policy on stormwater charges is that 10 percent of stormwater network costs are funded by all ratepayers through general rates, and the remaining 90 percent of costs are funded by targeted rates that are “equalised” across the district.

That’s all well and good, but the document doesn’t say why charges overall have increased for storm water. When asked for more detail, the response from KDC was: “It is mainly in the maintenance and operations budget and an increase in management services for catchment plans”.

When there is a 24 percent increase that is not a good enough response. Ratepayers have a right to get more detail and to be assured that every possible effort is being made to keep costs to an absolute minimum. On the other hand, the reasons may well be legitimate. We just don’t know.

All of this goes back to a very loose budgeting system, as mentioned in this column a month ago. With costs and staff numbers spiralling to levels that are concerning, councillors need to firstly understand why all costs are increasing, and secondly be able to scrutinise and where necessary control staff expenditure recommendations.

Also, with such disparity between values of properties in Mangawhai compared to the west, it is time KDC took up councillor Jonathan Larsen’s idea of having a differential rate for Mangawhai compared to other areas. After all, when 31 percent of all KDC expenditure is spent on roading and that’s taking place mainly in the west, there are equity questions to be asked, he says.

“My contention is that a pensioner in Mangawhai doesn’t necessarily have more ability to pay than one at Te Kopuru, but more to the point why should they pay more for basic services such as a road to their gate and operation of the administration of the council machine,” says Mr Larsen.

With an election looming and the positions of mayor, deputy mayor and chief executive vacant, there is a real opportunity for Mangawhai people to make changes to outdated thinking on spending and funding. But that requires ratepayers to take an active interest in the budgeting and planning procedures in place, the skills candidates for mayor and councillors bring to the table, and what vision they have for the district.

During the upcoming election campaign, Mangawhai Matters will be asking all council candidates questions about how they would go about managing the controversial rates issue and what information ratepayers should expect prior to making decisions.

What is most galling about the Mangawhai (rates) increases is that so little debate takes place about the reasons…

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