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ARC rating policy – more benefits

ARC rating policy – more benefits

29 June 2004

Ratepayers will benefit from a number of changes to the Auckland Regional Council’s rating policy this year.

Most of the region’s 459,000 ratepayers will see a decrease in their rates after the proposed average rates increase of 3.2% was reduced to 1.9% and the ARC agreed to introduce a 1.5 times business differential.

While the reduction in the average rates increase, a new transport rating policy and the introduction of a 1.5 business differential have hit the headlines, other changes will also help ratepayers.

The Council carried out significant community consultation prior to adopting the plan. In response to public feedback, the ARC has extended the rates payment period from four weeks to six weeks from the date of the invoice. The Council has also extended the discount period from two weeks to three weeks from the invoice date.

The ARC has also introduced automatic payments as another way to pay rates in equal monthly amounts.

A new postponement policy will provide some rate relief to highly valued coastal farm properties, who will be able to apply for a postponement of 25% of their rate. This is in recognition that some of the value of coastal farmland is due to its location value, not due to the value of the land in farming.

Landowners with a QEII covenant protecting native bush remnants on their land can also apply to have their rates remitted over that part of their land.

The ARC retains remission rating policies for community and sporting organisations and remission and postponement rating policies for Maori freehold land. The ARC also retains its policy of enabling postponement of rates in cases of extreme financial hardship. There are eligibility criteria for all of these situations and people are advised to contact the ARC for more information.

The ARC asked for feedback on its suggestion of charging every ratepayer $10 for the purchase of more regional park land. Community feedback was fairly evenly divided over this issue. Many of the 4,300 responses to the questionnaire did support the new charge, but an almost equal number did not support the charge. Given this feedback, the Council did not consider that it had a clear mandate to introduce the charge, but will consider putting surplus from the 2004 year to the parks fund.

The Council also agreed to look into a policy of rate postponement for highly valued farmland (not just coastal farmland) and a policy for rate relief for offshore islands, to be considered for introduction in the 2005/06 rating year.

The Council also agreed to look into a policy for consideration of a lower differential for remote areas of the region next year.

The ARC decided not to adopt a UAGC.

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