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Councillor Calls for Rates Referendum

CR JAMI-LEE ROSS

Manukau City Councillor For Howick

Media Release

1 June 2006

Councillor Calls for Rates Referendum

Manukau City Councillor Jami-Lee Ross is calling for a referendum on the Manukau City Council’s proposed change to an annual value based rating system before any new changes come into effect.

The representative for Howick says the Council is considering a move that will have a large redistributional effect on the city and one that first requires greater participation from the public.

“The change to annual value represents a fundamental shift in the way that the Council taxes the city and the change will affect many ratepayers with substantial rates increases.

“After listening to hundred of submissions on the proposed rating system during the annual plan hearings in May, I’m now convinced that there must be more opportunity for ratepayer participation into such a significant decision.

“With public opposition mounting, the most sensible way to progress this issue is to defer any change to an annual value based system until a referendum can be held in conjunction with the 2007 local body elections."

Mr Ross says he is concerned about the effect annual value will have on ratepayers in the higher valued areas, particularly those in the eastern wards of Manukau.

“There is strong evidence to suggest that a change to annual value based rating will result in a greater percentage of the rating burden being placed on wards such as Howick, Pakuranga and Botany. These wards are already paying more than their fair share of the total rates take, and annual value system will only exacerbate this problem further.

“Whenever large changes like this are made, there are always going to be winners and losers. While most ratepayers won’t notice much difference, in this case the losers are not just numbers on a piece of paper; they are real people with real lives and real families."

Mr Ross is also questioning whether there is a need to change rating system, noting that rating on property value is flawed whichever system is chosen. He is also concerned that no councillors gave the public an opportunity to assess the large policy change before the 2004 local body elections.

“There is no doubt that collecting rates based on property value is an antiquated and inefficient taxation system that doesn’t reflect the amount of services a person receives. But changing to annual value, even with a uniform annual general charge, won’t fix the problem.

“The re-distributional effect will instead cause unnecessary hard-ship by moving from one bad rating system to another. It characterizes a move away from taxing the unimproved value of land, to taxing the value of both the land and its capital improvements.

“With such extensive changes being proposed, there needs to be a mandate from the people before the changes can take place. The best option at this stage is to continue with the status quo until public support can be ascertained at the polls next year."

Mr Ross intends to move a motion during the council plan deliberations this month calling for a rates referendum. He hopes other councillors will support the move so that Manukau City ratepayers can be more involved in decided the future rating system.

ENDS

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