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Higher Council Rates Not Acceptable.

24 February 2005

Statement from David Thornton

Higher Council Rates Not Acceptable.

Government Should Remove Gst From Rates This Year.

Non-Essential Council Expenditure Must Not Be Rate-Funded.

The statement today by Local Government Minister, Chris Carter, that years of neglected infrastructure is the reason behind higher council rates this year, needs to be challenged.

While in some councils infrastructure has been neglected and must be upgraded, other councils have in recent years embarked on non-essential projects which must now be paid for.

New stadia, event promotions, economic development grants, endless scoping reports on possible new community facilities, higher salaries for mayors, and countless other projects costs, all dominate the funding needs of local councils.

While such expenditure may often be desirable and contribute to community well-being, there can be no justification for paying for non-essential services out of a tax based on the presumed value of a home - if sold.

Other sources of funding must be found for non-essential council spending.

With high rate increases forecast for most Auckland councils it is an absolute priority that work on alternative funding, currently proceeding at snail's pace, be given extreme urgency.

And if rates are to be increased this year central government should give relief to residential ratepayers by removing GST from rates as from 1st July this year.

Rates Rebellion leaders will meet shortly to plan a campaign for rates reform.

ENDS

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