Buller District Council

Are you up to speed with the Rates Overhaul project?

28th October, 2014

Tomorrow afternoon the Council will consider a recommendation from it’s Rates Review Committee, asking Council to put a radically new Rating Policy out for public consultation.

“If you are a ratepayer get ready to get involved” says Lynn Brooks, Chair of the Council Rates Review Committee.

“The Councillors have recognised the problems, adopted principles, and considered the options. Now we have a draft proposal, and we want to hear what ratepayers think about it. If the full Council accepts the Committee’s recommendation a detailed draft proposal will be published in early November. At the same time the Council will give ratepayers the chance to look up the possible results for their own individual properties.”

“This has not been a mere ‘rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic’. The draft proposal brings big changes for some” says Lynn. “Many will see their rates bill reduce but that means that others will have to pay more. My guess is that there will be a whole range of surprises as the rates burden is redistributed”.

“We think that we have a principled approach that is much more simple and transparent. We have moved to address historical inequities that will see reductions in rates for those in lower value urban housing, where the effects of large fixed rates have been hitting really hard. We have also suggested some reduction for the Commercial sector where some main street rates were hard to justify.”

“The change to Capital Values as the rating base eliminates the need for discounts for the rural sector, and there is a big move towards putting rural businesses on the same footing as urban business. Capital Values also removes the need for 44 differentials.”

“Our current rating system with 44 different discounts or premiums for 44 different ratepayer categories is too complicated and we can’t justify why it is this way. In the draft proposal no one gets discounts any more, with all rates now relative to a base rate of 1 for residential property. Businesses still pay more but the premiums in each category are now in line with each other and best practice around NZ” says Councillor Brooks.

“We knew that any real overhaul would produce controversial recommendations” says Mayor Garry Howard, “but we have been determined to do a genuine job. The present system is just too tough on some, especially those on fixed incomes. Our community deserves better. Of course that means some of us have to pay more, but that is the mark of a civilised society. Whatever are the final decisions that emerge after the consultation process, we want a fair, logical and principled system that will serve the whole community for many years.”

“As was inevitable, we have a draft proposal that produces some winners and some losers, while others may wonder what the fuss is about. However it still remains just a proposal, and I fully expect that there will be more changes as we work through the exhaustive consultation process.”

“I want to stress that nothing has been decided at this point. The committee is asking the Council to move to the next stage and to give people a taste of what could be possible. I do not have any problems with us taking that step. There will be a wide range of opinion within the Council about parts of the draft proposal, but now is the time to get the draft proposal out for consultation and hear from ratepayers. What is important is that we maintain progress in order that we can fulfil our pledge to complete the review in time for a new rating system to be in place from 1 July 2015”.

 

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