Environment Waikato has already received more than $800,000 in rates since its first direct rate invoices went out earlier this month.
This week’s Corporate Services Committee heard that the rates team was taking about 950 calls a day from ratepayers, but the majority were positive and more than half just wanted to set up direct debits and automatic payments.
Revenue Manager Julie Clausen said the amount of the Council’s $36 million in rates being paid immediately was unexpected and a bonus for the Council’s cashflow. Ratepayers with larger rural rates were pleased that they could choose to pay in instalments, which improved their own cashflow. Ratepayers with small accounts were also pleased that they could arrange to pay weekly, fortnightly, monthly or quarterly without incurring penalties.
The most disappointing aspect was the quality of the property data the Council holds, which meant that three out of 10 calls were to correct property information. This had meant a large number of invoices will have to be reprinted and re-sent. A strong property market had also meant a larger than expected number of properties were sold in the June-July period.
Only about one call in 10 was expressing concern, mainly from Hamilton City concerned about the increase in Passenger Transport rates.
She said the overall response to direct rating had been very positive and the publicity campaign beforehand had been extremely successful in ensuring a high rate of understanding of what was being done and why.