Every property owner in our region contributes to the work of Environment Southland through their rates. As your regional council, Environment Southland’s role differs from the other councils.
We are responsible for leading the management of Southland’s natural, physical resources – freshwater, land, air and the coast – on your behalf. We do this, in part, through consenting, compliance and regional planning. In addition, we have community- and science-based programmes to improve water quality, land sustainability, air quality and biodiversity.
The average rate increase of 6.9% would equate to approximately $23 per year for residential ratepayers.
For 2023 the overall average rate increase is 6.9%. However individual rates may vary significantly, and this is in large part due to variations in land and capital values. As many residential property values have substantially increased in the region during the latest valuation cycle, their rates will increase by more than the average.
Rates amounts are unique to each property, and are based on updated valuations from Quotable Value. We anticipate increasing values, based on information from Quotable Value, and use our equalisation process to even out any big jumps. This year the increasing property values have surged ahead of estimates in some areas. As a result, where property values have gone up substantially more than others, their rates will increase by more than the average.
The general rate covers council expenditure that benefits all ratepayers. For example, research and monitoring of Southland’s water, land, air and coast to ensure they’re managed sustainably and available for future generations to use and enjoy.
The general rate consists of two parts:
- the Uniform Annual General Charge, which is a fixed amount that is the same for every ratepayer in Southland
- a variable part, which is based on the capital value of each property
The variable part is calculated each year on the rateable value of each property, supplied by Quotable Values.
The Uniform Annual General Charge is the fixed amount of your general rate. It covers activities that benefit everyone regardless of property size or value, such as emergency management, pollution prevention, environmental education, community representation and our 24-hour environmental response service through our 0800 76 88 45 phone number. This year the UAGC is $143.45. It has increased by $9.26 or 6.9% from last year
All ratepayers contribute to the work of our biosecurity team through their annual rates. We work with people to ensure harmful species do not impact too severely on the values that give Southland a world class environment. Specifically, the biosecurity rate pays for work programmes detailed in the Southland Regional Pest Management Plan and the Southland Biosecurity Strategy .
Every property in Southland pays a land sustainability rate. This rate enables us to work with the Southland community, supporting them to take informed and brave environmental action. Our team in land management, pollution prevention, and environmental education work with rural and urban Southlanders to provide advice, and help landowners understand and navigate increasingly complex regulatory frameworks.
Most ratepayers pay a Rating District and/or Drainage Rate. The letters A-F on your rates invoice relate to the benefit that land receives. For example, land that receives a benefit from a council-managed drain will be classed as C, and the rates levied from it help to pay for the cost of maintaining that drain. Click here for a map of all stop banks, dams and drains maintained by Environment Southland.
|A||Land receives drainage and stop bank benefits|
|B||Land receives stop bank benefits|
|C||Land receives a drainage service|
|D||Willow control work / structures / off-site benefits|
|E||Land receives edge protection works, but no stop bank or drainage benefits|
|F||Indirect benefiting land - land within the catchment that doesn't receive direct benefits from physical assets such as stop banks, dams or drains, but instead receives benefits from community assets such as roads, bridges and power supply lines, which are protected by Environment Southland's infrastructure and services.|
|U||Upper Waikiwi Drainage|
|M||Invercargill Flood Protection|
Check out the flyer which accompanies the rates invoices for 2023. Total expenditure for the 2023/24 year is around $56 million, of which approximately:
- $300,000 goes towards air quality
Poor air quality continues to be an issue in our region, impacting on the quality of our lives – our health and wellbeing, and the environment. We know that the major contributor to the region’s poor air quality, particularly in winter, is home heating sources. We will continue to work with others to improve the region’s air quality by supporting improved heating and burning practices across the region.
- $11m goes towards water and land
Managing Murihiku Southland’s freshwater resource continues to be our first priority work programme. The management of our water and land resources in a sustainable way is critical for maintaining and improving social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of Murihiku Southland communities. Fundamental to this is meeting Te Mana o Te Wai – a holistic approach to protecting the mauri of the water. The Government is rolling out its ‘Essential Freshwater’ package. This involves the use of current RMA provisions to create a new freshwater policy, planning and management approach that impacts everything from farm practices to urban subdivision.
- $6m goes towards biosecurity and biodiversity
Indigenous biodiversity is in decline nationally, while our region remains at risk from new biosecurity threats. We are focused on understanding the decline and managing the threats to our native biodiversity. Our Regional Pest Management Plan and Fiordland Marine Regional Pathways Management Plan aim to minimise the impacts of pest species in our region.
Our biosecurity and biodiversity activities are significantly increased in the first five years of the Long-term Plan due to Jobs for Nature funding from the Government. This funding is predominately for the creation of jobs; these jobs will be targeted towards achieving biodiversity and biosecurity outcomes including pest plant and animal control, biodiversity work and marine biosecurity.
- $20.8m goes towards community resilience
Developing communities resilient to the effects of climate change is essential to securing our future. We continue to work with people, communities, other councils and organisations to understand, prepare and respond to the challenges and opportunities resulting from climate change. This includes ensuring we have adequate financial reserves in place to rebuild and grow from whatever challenges we face. We will maintain and improve our flood protection schemes and carry out upgrade work as part of our climate resilience projects.
- $1.4m goes towards coast and marine
We are responsible for the integrated management of the coastal marine area, as well as ensuring that users of coastal waters do so in a safe way. The health of our coastal water and estuaries is varied, while invasive marine pests have the potential to completely transform natural marine environments. Our marine fees from visiting cruise ships have been the key financial avenue to fund this work, but the pandemic means we have almost no cruise ship income in the immediate future and we need to fund this differently.
- $16m goes towards regional leadership
Regional Leadership is about working with others to achieve better outcomes.
This includes a range of activities such as:
- governance - the processes, systems and controls used by Environment Southland
- policy and planning
- technology and digital services
- transport management
- communication and engagement
We partner and work with iwi, local authorities, communities and other groups on regionally significant projects and activities. Regional Leadership enables us to achieve better outcomes and do it more efficiently and effectively than if we worked on our own, adding value for Southlanders.
For a visual breakdown of funding sources, check out the flyer which accompanies the rates invoices in 2023.
Income to fund our expenditure is received from a combination of:
- Rates (46%)
- Government Grants for Climate Resilience (19%)
- Fees and charges (21%)
- South Port NZ Ltd dividend (8%)
- Levies and contributions (3%)
- Rental income (2%)
- Investment income (1%)
- expenses related to a direct benefit for a specific ratepayer are partially recovered by fees and charges – an example is resource consents, where the cost is mainly charged back to the applicant
- expenses that have an overall benefit to a group of ratepayers are recovered by way of a targeted rate, for example flood protection and drainage is recovered through a river catchment rate for areas that benefit from this service
- expenditure that benefits all ratepayers is recovered by way of a general rate.