Northlanders are finding it harder to pay their council rates – as the deadline looms for the year’s second rates instalment.
On Monday, ratepayers are due to pay a total of $92.8 million (GST inclusive) to fulfil their second quarter rates.
The amount covers 100,000 properties across Northland.
Far North ratepayers are due $45.59m, Whangārei ratepayers $32.6m and Kaipara ratepayers $12.5m in district council rates.
They are also due to pay their share of $12.5m in Northland Regional Council rates due on properties across Te Tai Tokerau. All these figures are GST inclusive.
Kaipara District Council (KDC) general manager sustainable growth and development Sue Davidson said people were finding it more difficult to pay rates at the same time as the cost of living increased, with gradually rising mortgage rates for some as part of that.
“We are finding that ratepayers have more pressure on them,” Davidson said.
KDC’s 2023/2024 rates increase of 4.9 percent was one of the smallest in New Zealand.
Whangārei Mayor Vince Cocurullo said council analysis showed there were a “few small groups” of property owners that appeared to be struggling to pay their rates this financial year.
“While some property owners with high mortgage repayments are finding it challenging to pay rates and some businesses finding the economy tough may be hurting, most people are still managing to keep up to date with payments,” Cocurullo said.
Cocurullo said WDC rates per ratepayer were still among the lowest metropolitan rates in New Zealand. WDC rates rose by 7.9 percent for the current financial year.
He said analysis showed Whangārei property owners with lower value properties were keeping up with rates payments.
A Far North District Council (FNDC) spokesperson said people in this council’s rohe were also finding it more difficult to make rates payments due to the cost of living going up in combination with rates increasing.
FNDC’s overall rates for this year have risen by an average of 6.78 percent
The 20 November rates payments are the second of the councils’ four requested payments for the 2023/2024 financial year. The next rates are due in 2024 – one shortly after Valentines Day on 20 February, the other on 20 May.
Northland’s three district councils collect rates on behalf of Northland Regional Council in their areas.
Davidson said online payments were now the main way of making rates payments. This was through automatic payments or direct credits. She said there was an increase in people setting up direct debiting with the council. Some people were continuing to pay with cash, others via credit cards.
A FNDC spokesperson said there had been a gradual shift to more ratepayers paying via online banking since Covid-19 lockdowns.
Cocurullo said direct debiting was now the main payment method for his council. Most other customers paid online or by bank transfer or credit.
The number of people across Northland paying their rates in person at council offices is decreasing.
“There are a few customers that come to .. our offices to pay by either card or cash,” Cocurullo said.
There is a wide range of rates payment frequency across the four councils.
More than $376m in rates will be gathered over 12 months to run Northland’s four councils during the 2023/2024 year.
Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.