Q: Why am I paying for the Weed Harvester?
A: Weed harvesting of Lake Horowhenua
Improving the water quality of Lake Horowhenua has been a key focus for Horizons and the Horowhenua community for a number of years now. Within reports undertaken by NIWA, harvesting of weed within the Lake has been identified as a key action to improve water quality.
At the end of 2014, Horizons purchased a weed harvester, with the aid of funding from the Ministry for the Environment, as part of the Freshwater Clean Up Fund package for Lake Horowhenua. From 2015, weed harvesting is scheduled to take place on an annual basis from September to November, targeting spring growth of the weed and removing it from the Lake before it can die off.
Council has agreed in the 2015-25 Long-term Plan to fund operating costs by two means. A Uniform Annual Charge from Horowhenua ratepayers will contribute 80 per cent of the costs as a targeted rate, and a Water Quality and Quantity Rate from all ratepayers in the Region will make up the remaining 20 per cent. We are also looking at potentially using the harvester in other lakes across the Region.
Q: Why have I received separate invoices for each of my properties?
A: Customers with more than 5 invoices can be added to a schedule which means the customer will receive only one rates account. Therefore one payment only needs to be made.
Q: What is this new Infrastructure Insurance Reserve Rate and why am I paying it?
A: As we have all experienced since the Christchurch and Japan earthquakes, insurance costs have increased dramatically. In addition, it has been very difficult for us to obtain insurance for our river and drainage scheme assets. We have decided to partially self insure these assets. The infrastructure insurance reserve rate will strengthen our financial position and help us self insure our extensive but vital scheme assets.
The rate is being paid on a per property basis with the amount a property pays depending on its capital value. The bands of rates are:
Up to and including $250,000
Greater than $250,000 up to and including $500,000
Greater than $500,000 up to and including $1,000,000
Greater than $1,000,000
This money will be held in reserve and used to keep debt levels lower (to enable sufficient borrowing room in the event of a flood or earthquake.) The need to rate for this reserve will be reviewed each year during the annual plan process. Every three years during our Long-term Plan process we will also review the need to hold onto the reserve balance.
Q: Can I get a discount on my rates?
A: Yes, for this rating year 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016
If all rates owing (this includes arrears, penalty and current) are paid in full by the due date 25 September 2015, a discount of 3% will be allowed on the current rates.
Discount applies to the current year only. The 2015 -2016 discount does not apply to any rates still owed from previous years, therefore to receive the discount on your current rates the total balance needs to be paid in full before or on the due date (25 September 2015).
Q: How will I know what the discount amount is?
A: The discount amount and the discounted balance will be clearly shown on the rates notice. The discounted amount will be withdrawn after the due date and the discount will no longer be reflected on your property’s account.
Q I paid my rates on the 25 September 2015 but haven’t received the 3% discount, why?
A: Unfortunately our new rates software system won’t allocate a discount if payment is not exactly as requested on the notice (i.e. $0.01 or $0.01cr) and must be made by due date. Rates staff will need to manually reapply the discount. To calculate the discounted amount go to the relevant year instalment (IN) and X by 3%. This customer should have paid the amount of $327.82 as stated on our rates notice.
Q: Why am I paying a levy to AHB?
A: Horizons collect a levy on behalf of the Animal Health Board, for their Tb Vector control programme. All properties, 4 hectares or larger will be charged a special levy of $0.106 inclusive of GST per hectare. Possums are a major carrier of tuberculosis (Tb Vector), and the AHB programme complements Horizon’s existing. Possum control programme.
Q: Why do I get a rates bill from my city/district council and Horizons?
A: Horizons is a completely separate organisation to your city/district council. City or district councils are responsible for community services in your area such as road maintenance, libraries, recreation areas and land use.
Horizons is your regional council and manages the natural resources such as land and water across several city or district councils. We also cover bus transport for all areas and emergency management. We have only been sending out rates directly to ratepayers since 2002. Prior to 2002, Horizons rates were collected on our behalf by city and district Councils. We made the change to direct rating because we believe that you need to know more about how your money is spent.
Q: Who gets a rates bill from Horizons?
A: Everyone who owns a property in the Horizons Region will get a rates invoice from Horizons.
Q: What is the Horizons Region?
A: Horizons encompasses Ruapehu, Rangitikei, Wanganui, Manawatu, Palmerston North, Tararua, Horowhenua also some parts of Taupo, Stratford and Waitomo districts.
Q: Who decides Horizons’ activities?
A: Horizons has certain responsibilities mandated on it from central government. We also actively consult with the community to ensure we represent the wishes of our ratepayers and utilise ratepayers’ money in ways the community will benefit the most from.
Q: Why is Horizons’ General Rate based on Capital Value?
A: General rates of regional councils may be made on either a land value or capital value basis. We were directed to use the capital value system by the Local Government (Manawatu-Wanganui Region) Reorganisation Order 1989, which established the Council. The Local Government Commission considered the different rating systems during the process of forming the Reorganisation Order and their decision was for the capital system.
Other Councils in our area:
• Palmerston North City Council Land Value
• Manawatu District Council Capital Value
• Wanganui District Council Land Value
• Horowhenua District Council Land Value
• Tararua District Council Land Value
• Ruapehu District Council Land Value
• Rangitikei District Council Capital Value
Q: What is a Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC)?
A: The UAGC funds a large range of activities from which every ratepayer benefits equally. It is a fixed rate that is applied to every rateable property in the region. The UAGC this year is set at $39 per rateable property.
Q: What is a Targeted Rate?
A: Targeted rates are for a particular activity or project that benefits specific ratepayers, for example pest plant and pest animal control. These are also referred to as biodiversity rates.
Q: What is a Uniform Annual Charge (UAC)?
A: These are a fixed rate applied to ratepayers who benefit from a specific type of work. It is not assessed on capital value like the general rate. Uniform annual charges include SLUI ($36.40) per property throughout the Region, regional parks ($5.31) per Palmerston North and Manawatu property and environmental initiatives ($18.09 on each rateable property throughout the Region).
Uniform = SUIP
Where ‘uniform’ appears on the invoice it means a charge for each “separate or inhabited as part of a Rating Unit (SUIP). A SUIP is a separately used or inhabited part of a rating unit” (SUIP). A SUIP is a separately used or inhabited part of a rating unit and is only recognised when there is unique valuation number for that part of the rating unit.
Q: What is the meaning of Classifications?
A: More information about rate classifications is available via our website www.horizons.govt.nz/about-us/rates
Q: What is a river or drainage scheme rate? How are they calculated?
A: A scheme rate varies according to the benefit received from stop banks, pump stations, drainage systems and other flood protection facilities. The higher the risk of flooding to your property, the higher rate you pay as you receive greater benefit from the protection. If you live further from a waterway, you still pay for the benefits of flood-protected roads, shops and services but at a lower rate.
Q: What is the Transport Rate?
A: Everyone pays a transport rate that goes towards land transport planning and road safety. Ratepayers who have public transport and Total Mobility services available in their area contribute to this through the transport rate.
Q: What is meant by equalisation?
A: District and city councils revalue at different times across the Region. These revaluations affect the capital value of properties and, hence how much general rate they pay. Each year Horizons obtains an equalisation certificate from Quotable Value that shows the value of all districts as at the last revaluation date. This information is used to equally spread the rates allocated by capital value among the districts.
All properties in the Region are re-valued on a 3-yearly cycle. If your property has had a revalue this year it will mean the value on which your property is rated will have changed and this will have affected the rates you pay on a capital value as properties do not uniformly move in value within a district.
Q: What is the Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI)?
A: Our Region’s problems with hill country erosion were sorely exposed during the February 2004 storm event. In response, representatives from our Region’s communities and stakeholder organisations have joined together and formed the Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI), which seeks to implement whole farm business plans specifically tailored to manage each area of highly erodible land. The aim is to help insure against having to recover from the effects of massive-scale hill erosion in the future. This assists in preventing the silting up of rivers downstream and thus helping to reduce flooding.
Q: What is the Manawatu River Accord?
A: Led by Horizons, the Manawatu River Leaders’ Accord brings together leaders from community, industry, interest groups, iwi and local government in their efforts to improve the state of the Manawatu River and catchment. It enables groups to work in partnership with one another, sets clear goals and provides accountability around clean-up actions and activities. Horizons contribute $406,000 per year to this clean-up effort under the Manawatu River Leaders’ Accord. This is funded by ratepayers in the Manawatu Catchment. More information about this work can be found online at www.manawaturiver.co.nz
Q: I pay rates to the Lower Manawatu Scheme (LMS). I have again been invoiced for a House Flood (HF) rate ($512.66) but my neighbours tell me they are not paying this rate. Why should I be paying if they are not?
A: Since the new LMS rating system was adopted in June 2009, Council has received a number of submissions in respect of the fairness of application of the HF category rate. Through the 2010-11 Annual Plan process, Council adopted some changes which resulted in a number of properties being removed from the HF category. Essentially these were:
1. All those rural houses that receive flood protection from the LMS but where the depth of inundation in a 100-year flood would be less than 50 mm have been exempted from the HF rate.
2. The Feilding urban flood protection rating boundary has been modified to include an area immediately to the North of Feilding that is presently being developed as an extension to the urban area. By being shifted into the urban category, houses in that extension area will no longer pay the HF rate, but will now pay the lesser Feilding urban (FG) rate.
3. The Palmerston North urban flood protection rating boundary has been modified to include an area to the West of the City between Longburn-Rongotea/Shiriiffs Road and the Mangaone Stream and between No. 1 Line and the Manawatu River. That area is rapidly developing as an extension to the present City urban area. By being shifted into the urban category, houses in that developing area will no longer pay the HF rate but will now pay the lesser Palmerston North urban (PN) rate.
All other rural houses (777 of them) will continue to be rated in the HF category.
Q: I am confused who is paying for what in terms of possum control?
A: The situation in relation to possum control is as follows:
On this year’s invoice we have split this rate into two lines called ‘AHB TB Vector Funding’ and ‘Pest Animal Management’ to provide you clarity for what you are paying for.
The Animal Health Board (AHB) has the specific mandate to eradicate Bovine Tb which is spread mainly by possums. We collect a levy on their behalf in properties over 4 hectares.
However, Horizons will still carry out possum control activities in rural areas to maintain the gains made by the Animal Health Board (AHB). In addition, we will also focus on the problems that possums pose to the environment – be it rural or urban. In other words, the two programmes complement each other. That’s why everyone in the Region makes a contribution from their rates to possum control, either by per hectare rate or the general rate.
Q: I live in the Rangitikei District and I want to understand what I am paying for to get rid of Old Man’s Beard?
A: Old Man’s Beard has been identified as a particular problem by the local community and as result a Differentiated Uniform Annual Charge of $39.30 has been applied to properties over 4 hectares in size and a $5.54 charge for those under 4 hectare’s. In areas where Old Man’s Beard has become a problem we aim to stop it spreading further. Outside these areas we will try to eradicate it whenever it appears.
Q: My rates bill has increased this year and it seems this is because the value of my property has increased. I thought Horizons sorted this out?
A: Horizons has a system which deals with most rises and falls in property values and this works. However, in a few cases where property prices rise significantly more than other properties, yes your rates will go up. The Council has no say in this matter and any concerns you have need to be taken up with Quotable Value – the government agency that sets the rateable value of your property.
Q: Why am I receiving a two page invoice? This is just a waste of money!
A: The purpose of the two page invoice is to give you more information about what services and benefits that you receive for your rates. In the past you have received very little basic information and there have been complaints about this, so the two page invoice is in direct response to requests for more information.
Q: Why do you put out a rates newsletter? Isn’t it a waste of money?
A: Horizons believes that it is important that you have a clear understanding of what your rates pay for and the benefits that you receive, and we’ve had feedback that more communication is desired. Every council in the country does this and it is part of our philosophy of being open and up front about what we do.
Our rates newsletter is printed on environmentally sustainable paper to minimise any impact on the environment. We encourage you to recycle this newsletter if you do not wish to keep it for future reference.
Q: Regional Parks – Where is Totara Reserve?
A: Totara Reserve is based in Manawatu district and sits in the foothills of the Ruahine ranges in the Pohangina Valley. It is used by many people as a recreational area and is a valuable piece of native bush in Horizons’ region. We have now taken this over from Manawatu District Council and we will enhance its forest and wildlife; and improve camping facilities, tracks and signage.
Q: I don’t use buses why should I pay for them?
A: Having a bus service available gives people an option for transport and means fewer cars on the road and an environmentally friendly transport solution. It can also be a cost effective way of getting to and from town, work or between towns.
Q: I don’t want my name and address showing on your rates information database (RID). What can I do?
A: We will send you a name suppression form to complete so we can remove your details. This needs to be applied for each year. Please note that no names or postal address show on the RID which the rates database on our website is. You can also download a copy of the Suppression form from this website: www.horizons.govt.nz/rates.
Q: I can’t afford to pay – what can I do?
A: If you are having difficulty paying your rates we may be able to enter into a payment arrangement with you. Please contact the Horizons’ rates office for all payment arrangements. If your request for a payment arrangement is successful and the payments do not default then a remission of penalty will be applied. Please phone 0508 800 800.
Direct Debit: You may pay by Direct Debit that offers annual, quarterly, monthly and fortnightly payment options. A form can be sent to you by our Customer Service Team or you can download the Direct Debit form from our website: www.horizons.govt.nz/rates
Automatic payments: A form can be sent to you by Horizons rates office, for automatic payments. You then forward the completed form to your bank. This is a flexible way to pay. All requests for Automatic Payment forms must be forwarded to the Horizons’ rates office. This is so the payments can be calculated over the full year as automatic payments must be completed and paid in full by the end of the financial year (e.g. end June of the current rating year). Automatic Payment forms are only available from this office. Please phone 0508 800 800.
Q: What happens if I don’t pay?
A: All property owners are required by law to pay rates. The final day for payment for all rates is the 25 September 2015.
If rates are not paid in full, or a payment arrangement is not in place with Horizons; penalties will be charged at the end of October. Please refer the back of your rate notice for more information.
Q: I haven’t got a rates bill. Why?
A: If you have recently bought or sold the property the required details may not have been forwarded to Horizons. If you have changed your postal address and forgotten to tell us please do so. We will then issue you with a copy or a new rates notice.
Q: I am confused – the name of my draining scheme has changed – Why?
A: We have updated the rate line descriptions in order to more accurately reflect the activity this represents.