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Interim grants available for community groups

Interim grants available for community groups and organisations affected by changing rating legislation

Interim grants will be available to ensure groups currently receiving remissions on general rates from Auckland City are not financially penalised as a result of the recent change in rating legislation.

Last year, the Rating Powers Act (1988) which dictates Auckland City’s rates remissions was replaced with the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002.

The Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 makes changes to rates from 1 July 2003 that affect groups’ eligibility for remissions on general rates:

The primary liability for rates has shifted from the occupier to the owner. This means that groups that lease their premises will no longer be the ratepayers. Only whole properties are now separately rated. This means that part of a property that qualified for a rates remission in the past will no longer be separately rated or receive its own rates notice. There will be some changes to the liability for rates of some properties. This means that some properties that have received 50% mandatory rate remissions will no longer receive them.

Auckland City’s Community Services Committee chair, Councillor Graeme Mulholland, estimates that about half the community groups and organisations that currently receive rates remission from the council will be affected by the law changes.

Section 85 of the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 and section 109 of the Local Government Act 2002 allow Auckland City to develop a policy for remitting general rates. A policy has to be developed as part of the Annual Plan consultation process.

At today’s Community Services Committee, the committee endorsed an interim draft policy for remitting general rates for consultation in the Annual Plan process. The policy outlines two interim procedures to assist groups over the 2003/2004 year:

Groups that remain ratepayers, because they own their premises or land, from 1 July 2003 can apply for rates remissions as in the past. Groups that are no longer ratepayers from 1 July 2003, because they lease their premises or land, can apply for an interim grant in lieu of a rates remission if they received a remission in 2002/2003. Groups that no longer qualify for a 50% mandatory remission may also apply for an interim grant.

Councillor Mulholland explains the grants are simply an interim measure for 2003/2004 pending a wider policy review of the council’s Community Group Assistance Policy and Rates Remission Policy later in the year. A new policy will be developed for the period beginning 1 July 2004.

Councillor Mulholland says the council will be contacting all groups affected by the new legislation to explain the law change and inform them of the council’s interim policy measures.

Community groups and organisations along with interested members of the public will have the opportunity to make submissions on the interim draft Rates Remission Policy In the draft annual plan in April/May 2003.

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