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Minister asked to expand Terms for Rates Inquiry

8 November 2006

MEDIA RELEASE

Minister asked to expand Terms of Reference for Rates Inquiry

In response to concerns expressed, that the Terms of reference for the Zindependnet Inquiry into council rates are inadequate, NoMoreRates organiser David Thornton has emailed Local Government Minister, Mark Burton, requesting to expand the Terms of Reference.

David Thornton wants to make it clear that there will be oppportunity for public submissions on al issue connected with rates, including the role of local councils and the activites they get involved in.

Following answers to questions in Parliament yesterday David Thornton said ”It is obvious that even MPs do not believe that the Terms of Reference adequately address the rates issues of most concern to ratepayers”.

Mr Thornton sent the Minister suggested new Terms of Reference which would make clear what the Inquiry will look into – and on which public submissions could be made.


FULL TEXT OF EMAIL TO MINISTER.

Hon Mark Burton
Minister of Local Government.

Dear Minister

Independent Inquiry into Rates

Having seen the question and your responses in Question Time yesterday I believe that the current Terms of Reference do not include some specific tasks which you intend the Inquiry to address.

May I respectfully request that you consider the NoMoreRates suggested Terms of Reference [listed below] and have them – or similar - included in your Terms of Reference so that the government’s intentions are clearly expressed.

David Thornton
Founder/organiser NoMoreRates.com

NoMoreRates.com SUGGESTED TERMS OF REFERENCE

The Independent Inquiry must;’

* Consider, in the light of long-standing public disquiet of ratepayers, the case for for substantial and sustainable changes to the present system of local authority funding.


* Make recommendations on changes that are necessary and how to implement them including any interim proposals which might be introduced with urgency to relieve current financial pressure on some residential and rural ratepayers.


* Take evidence and submissions from stakeholders, including residential, rural and business ratepayers and advocay groups generally.


* Ensure maximum public input and discussion on draft reports, proposals, recommendations and any other relevant matters.

In particular, the Inquiry should;-

* define the role of local government and make propsals for categorising ‘essential services and infrastructure’ and how they are to be funded; ‘government–directed services’ and how they are to be funded; ‘desirable services endorsed by the community’ and how they are to be funded.


* make recommendations on how best to address the inequities caused by the current system of property revaluation and its effect on individual ratepayers


* assess the case for increased funding from central government to local government to meet costs associated with the implementation of new legislation


* present options for limiting increases in local taxation [rates]


In all its work the Inquiry should be guided by the following principles;

* any new or revised system of local taxation [rates] must reflect the ability to pay of the taxpayer


* taxes [rates] levied must bear a reasonable relationship to services provided


* adequate provision to be made for addressing individual financial hardship arising from local taxation [rates]

In planning and considering its work the Inquiry should refer to;-

* the work of the Lyons Inquiry in the United Kingdom


* the Local Government White Paper ‘Stronger and Properous communities’ presented to the UK Parliament in October 2006


* TABOR and similar legislation operating in various US states


* The ‘A FairShare for Responsible Local Government’ in Australia


* And any other available international studies, funding systems, and inquiries which may be relevant to the Inquiry’s work.


The inquiry should should report progress, together with any interim proposals, to the Minister and Parliament at no longer than three-monthly intervals

ENDS

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