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City backs residents and tells ARC to review rate

North Shore City backs residents and tells ARC to review its rate
July 24, 2003

The North Shore City Council is asking the Auckland Regional Council (ARC) to rethink its controversial new rate - and quickly.

At their meeting last night (Wednesday, July 23) in front of a packed gallery of more than 300 local residents, North Shore City councillors unanimously backed their community's call for a swift response to the ARC.

Mayor George Wood says the ARC has delivered a rating shock to North Shore City residents and his council is demanding answers and action from both regional and central Government in an all-out effort to find alternative solutions that are fair, workable and lasting.

The North Shore City Council is asking the ARC to hold an urgent special meeting before next Friday, August 1 to reconsider its rating system and, in the meantime, to give ratepayers some peace-of-mind by postponing the date by which they have to pay their first ARC rate demand.

"We'll also ask the Auditor-General to carry out an urgent review of the ARC rating policy to determine whether its capital value rating regime provides a fair and reasonable level of service and benefit to our North Shore City ratepayers for the extra rates the regional council has imposed on this city," says Mayor Wood.

As Chair of the Auckland Mayoral Forum, George Wood will invite all constituency and list MPs serving the Auckland region to an urgent meeting to discuss the ARC rating issue.

"We'll be seeking our MPs' support for a review of the rating system and appropriate Government support for Auckland's transport needs.

"The Minister of Transport, Paul Swain, will be asked to justify how ratepayers in the Auckland region are being heavily rated by the ARC in a very short space of time in order to substantially fund the Auckland public transport system despite the fact we're the greatest contributor to petrol taxes which should fund roading and transport."

North Shore City Council will also ask the ARC to reconsider the options available to ratepayers to pay their ARC bill, including the ability to pay the 10 instalments by cheque without being penalised.

In its search for answers from the ARC, Auditor-General and Central Government, George Wood says North Shore City needs to clearly see how the ARC's complicated new formula is being applied to each city across the region so it can judge whether it's fair value.

Mayor Wood says North Shore City doesn't have rail services so the council needs to work out exactly how much it is paying for that and whether the proportion is fair and justified.

"We're seeking with urgency the information we need from the ARC on its formula to make our own judgement."

He says the ARC needs to show how it is going to deliver 'added value' to the region for the extra money it is collecting.

"When we know exactly what the council is going to deliver for the money it collects in our city, we can judge whether it's 'fair value' and then we need to keep a close watch to ensure it keeps its promise of better service."

In response to a delegation to last night's (July 23) council meeting from the Glenfield Residents' and Ratepayers' Association, Mayor Wood says the council strongly lobbied the ARC during its annual plan process on the need to have a business differential and a land value, rather than a capital value, rating system.

"We did all we could as part of the submission process to vigorously represent our community's concerns but we had no power to stop the ARC making its decisions," he says.

George Wood says the North Shore City Council questioned the need for a 30 per cent rate increase in one year when the benefits would be staged over a number of years.

"We fought then and we're still fighting," says the mayor. "We're right alongside our community on this issue."

ENDS

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