Prime Minister John Key has told local body leaders to keep rate increases down and reduce levels of debt.
Mr Key was addressing the Local Government New Zealand conference which began on Sunday in Queenstown.
He told the conference on Monday that central government has done its bit by tightening its belt and councils need to do the same, by cutting costs and reducing debt.
Mr Key says times are tight and ratepayers can't endure unaffordable rate rises.
He urged local body leaders to think carefully about the capacity of their communities during difficult financial times.