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Council concern over ‘Donnelly’ Bill

MEDIA RELEASE


4 October 2001

Council concern over ‘Donnelly’ Bill

An attempt to have councils subsidise schools’ sewage disposal is simplistic and misguided, according to the Auckland City Council.

The Council’s Investments Committee today confirmed its opposition to the proposed Rating Powers (Special Provisions for Certain Rates for Educational Establishments) Bill.

If the Bill becomes law it will require councils to discount their wastewater rates or charges to schools by 80 per cent, shifting a central government cost onto the ratepayer.

The Council has previously made a submission to the Education and Science Select Committee opposing the Bill and has advocated its opposition to many members of Parliament.

Investments Committee Chairman Vern Walsh said the bill was misguided in principle.

“Education funding is a central Government function, not a local authority one,” said Cr Walsh.

“Auckland City continues to oppose this Bill before Parliament because it takes away local authorities’ right to charge schools for sewage disposal”.

“The Bill requires councils to give schools an 80 per cent discount on their wastewater rates or charges,” Mr Walsh said.

“It unfairly shifts the costs of providing sewerage disposal from central Government to the local ratepayer. Much of the cost of school sewerage disposal will have to be transferred to ratepayers if this bill is passed.”

Mr Walsh said council’s other major concern is compliance costs.

“The legislation, if passed, will impose substantial costs on to council and to Metrowater.

“In order to use the formula set out in the Bill we will have to develop a standard wastewater rating policy. We will also require regular data from all qualifying schools in order to apply the notional ratio of toilets to student and staff numbers.”

The council suggests that a review of local authority funding powers now being undertaken by the Government will provide a fairer solution.

“While Council is of course sympathetic to schools’ funding problems, we feel that this a simplistic approach that merely moves costs from the national education budget to local ratepayers.”
Minister of Education Trevor Mallard, Minister of Local Government Sandra Lee and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Auckland Issues, Judith Tizard, have been informed of the council’s position.
ENDS

For further information please contact:
Cr. Vern Walsh on 626 7826; 626-5492 or 021 770 283.

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