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Rodney Rates victims should blame Government

Media release 11 August 2008

[Statement from David Thornton founder/organiser NoMoreRates campaign]

‘Rodney Rates Rape’ victims should blame Government for its response to recommendations of Rates Inquiry.

Time is running out for sustainability of rating system.

News that some Rodney District business ratepayers are being hammered with huge council rates increases is likely to be echoed by ratepayers around the country when the rates bill comes through the letterbox.

A full year after the Rates Inquiry made its report to Government very few decisions have been made, by either central government or local councils, on the 96 recommendations put forward in the report.

And those few decisions that the government has made will bring minimal relief to ratepayers.

The government has rejected three additional sources of funding which would have helped to contain or reduce rates. These recommendations were for

• An Infrastructure Equalisation Fund – funded from GST
• An International Visitors Environmental Levy
• An increase of 2c per litre in Local Authority Petroleum Tax.

The Government has also

• rejected the recommendation for an independent unit to review councils’ financial decisions – a proposal which would have introduced a watchdog on council spending

rejected a major revamp of the valuation system which was aimed at bringing consistency to tri-ennial revaluations

• failed to allow councils to charge rates on crown owned land.

• failed to re-imburse councils for extra costs arising from new legislation

The lack of action on many of the recommendations of the Rates Inquiry will be hugely disappointing to those ratepayers and community groups who made submissions to the Inquiry.

The Rates Inquiry was established in August 2006 as the alternative to a call for a cap on council rates increases which could have been imposed if New Zealand First had supported Rodney Hide’s Rates Capping Bill in Parliament.

Two years later ratepayers are still looking for changes to a rating system which, in its report one year ago, the Rates Inquiry concluded would be unsustainable within ten years,

The Rates Inquiry recommendations provided some medium term options to bring relief to ratepayers under the rating system – but the need remains for a major revamp of the way councils are funded in the longer term, and the activities that councils are allowed to engage in.


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