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Carter Continues To Deny Ratepayer Input

23 May 2005


Business groups remain frustrated that Local Government Minister Chris Carter continues to deny ratepayers the opportunity for input into the current review of local government funding, said Don Nicolson, Chairman of the Local Government Forum, a pan-industry group representing business organisations with a strong interest in local government policy.

Mr Nicolson was commenting in response to the continued silence of the minister to requests from the Local Government Forum for the opportunity to be consulted at an early stage on the review.

"Our expectations are not unreasonable: the previous government sought the views of both the forum and Local Government New Zealand prior to the 1999 review of local government funding," said Mr Nicolson.

The Local Government Forum most recently wrote to the Minister on 17 March. Over two months later there is still no reply despite attempts to seek from his office updates on progress.

"With each week that passes a precious opportunity to gain ratepayer buy-in to the review is lost and our fear is that this lack of buy-in will make it more likely that the review will do little more than dream up ingenious new ways to use ratepayers money to meet government dreams and schemes," said Mr Nicolson.

"Taxpayer funded rate rebates and other subsidies will reduce the pressure for some but will not fix the fundamental problem of local government expansionism funded by a flawed method of taxation.

"Councils should focus on their core business of providing local public goods, make more use of user charges to cover the costs of services provided, and ensure that rates are struck in line with the benefit received by the ratepayer.

"It's just not good enough for this important review to be a cosy get together between central and local government without formal reference to those who pay" concluded Mr Nicolson.

Members of the Local Government Forum include Business New Zealand, Electricity Networks Association, Federated Farmers of New Zealand, New Zealand Business Roundtable, and New Zealand Forest Owners Association.


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