Buller District Council

Media Release- Rating system to be reviewed

31st October, 2017

Buller District Council wants to change its rating system to make it simpler to understand and more transparent for ratepayers.

At last nights Council meeting elected members agreed to formally consult with the community on a review of how rates are collected.

Mayor Garry Howard stressed the proposed changes would help address inequities that had “built up over time” but would not increase the total amount of rates Council would collect from the community.  Instead the amount paid by different ratepayers would be reallocated to help address concerns around affordability and simplicity, he said.

“Around 59 per cent of the money needed to run the council comes from rates based on a system that’s outdated in some areas and which is very difficult to understand. Our community deserves better than that,” Howard said.

The proposal agreed to builds on feedback from three years ago when Council first mooted a change to the rating system.  Since then, the Council has considered a range of other models and is now proposing:

– moving from general rates based on the land value of a property to rates based on the capital value (land, buildings, improvements) of a property.  Properties with a higher capital value would pay higher rates; properties with a lower capital value would pay lower rates.  At present all Buller District Council general rates are based on land value, irrespective of what buildings are on the property.

– reducing the number of rates differentials, or categories of ratepayers, from 43 to nine with all ratepayers starting from the same baseline;

– keeping targeted rates (which are the same for everyone) for water, sewerage and solid waste.

– reducing the Uniform Annual General Charge to $475 (including GST).

Mr. Howard said Buller District Council was one of very few councils in New Zealand still using a rates system based on land value.

If the Council’s proposals are supported, the total amount of rates collected from residential property owners across the district would decrease.  However, the total amount collected from mining activities, commercial utilities and primary industries would increase.

“We’d be collecting the same amount of money overall.  But some property owners would pay less and others would pay more.”

Deputy Mayor, Graeme Neylon made the point at last nights meeting that it is not a case of Council defending the proposal but for the community to discuss and put forward their view through the consultation process.

Consultation on the rating proposals will open from November 15 until December 18.   Every ratepayer in the district will receive a “sample rates assessment” which is an indication of what their rates would have been in 2017-18 if the proposal was adopted, along with a summary document outlining the proposal.

There will not be an online rates lookup available, however additional information, including the full consultation document will be available on the Council’s website http://www.bullerdc.govt.nz/rates-overhaul-project and from Council offices in Westport or Reefton.

Council will also hold a series of drop-in information sessions in Karamea, Ngakawau, Westport, Punakaiki and Reefton to help ratepayers understand the potential impacts on their own properties. Public meetings will be held in Westport and Reefton in December.

Submissions will be able to be made online, via email, by post or by hand delivery to Council offices.


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