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From The Mayor

June 13, 2024 June 2024, Regular Features No Comments

By Martin Connelly

Firstly, can I thank the Deputy Mayor for keeping this column going and keeping you informed of council developments during my absence.

This week I have been reflecting on festivals and the impact they have on community wellbeing. Last weekend I was at Booktown and it made me wonder about how such an event can have such a powerful impact on so many people. Festivals have been around forever; they are part of our culture. They enable us to observe our traditions while enabling us to reinforce community pride and a sense of belonging.

While I was at Booktown, I bumped into several of the people who are organising the Martinborough Music Festival, which takes place at the end of September. 

For me and many others, the Music Festival is one of the “big events” in the calendar. The programmes are exciting, the players will be world class and we can enjoy all this right here in


My thanks to the people those people who live among us who plan, organise, and crew the Music Festival. Especially the Biggs, the Trustees, and the volunteers in the bright aprons. A shout-out to Glenys who always allows large posters advertising the Festival, to adorn her fence.

The Music Festival is not a council event, so you might wonder why I mention it. The reason is that we all have a part to play in fostering the health and wellbeing of our towns. 

In this case, The Martinborough Music Festival Board of Trustees organises the Festival and the council is a minor player. The council’s major contribution is to keep the wonderful auditorium in tip-top condition. But we can all encourage, celebrate and support the Festival Trust Board, which is what I am doing. 

One thing that is core council business, is the setting of rates. This year our rating calculations will be affected by two major developments. One is the move from a land value (or unimproved value) based calculation of our rates, to a capital value (land and buildings) based calculation. The other is the recently published revaluations of our properties. 

I could try to explain what each of these changes will mean but by far the easiest thing for you to do is to go to this webpage, https://swdc.govt.nz/services/rates/rates-estimator/ with a copy of the ”Notice of Rating Valuation” letter telling you what your property is worth. 

After a few simple steps you will get an estimate of your 2024/25 rates. 

For most of us, we will be paying more in rates next year compared to this year.  Many of you will also be paying additional taxes next year, but you will notice a rates increase much more readily than a tax increase. Brad Olsen, the Chief Executive and Senior Economist at Infometrics, recently provided us with some startling information. Based on the Taxpayers’ Union analysis, the average ratepayer pays around $3,000 in rates but is paying around $37,000 in taxes. That is because taxes are hidden in the prices we pay for goods and services. For example, when the price of petrol goes up – the amount of tax we pay also goes up. 

We are taxed on what we earn but as the tax is collected before we get our wages, we seldom notice how much tax we are paying.  

Rates are different – councils must be up front and forthright about the rates they charge. 

Taxes go up gradually, but rates go up all at once, and that can be a bit of a shock.

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