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ARC confirms business differential breaches Act

ARC confirms business differential; in breach of Act

The vote taken today by the ARC for the Council's Long Term Community Plan to include funding through a business differential is in breach of the Local Government Act on several counts, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.

"A majority of ARC councillors have embarrassed themselves and damaged the Council's credibility after voting to confirm the 50% business differential in the Long Term Community Plan," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"After confirming the differential, the ARC then, amazingly, voted to undertake a study to determine the value of benefits that commercial ratepayers would get from it!

"This should have been done before the Council put its proposals out for public consultation.

"By voting for the differential the Council has failed to comply with the Local Government Act, in particular S.101(3) of the Act.

"In confirming the differential today the ARC has failed on four counts to comply:

* It has failed to comply with the special consultation procedures of the Act;

* Failed to provide relevant information to affected ratepayers to justify its decision - no analysis has been done to show the value of the benefits received by business ratepayers.

* Failed to be reasonable in that it has not provided any evidence to justify introducing the differential, and

* The majority of councillors are on record of wrongfully taking into account irrelevant considerations.

"The key issue is that business already pays 3.2 times more on average than the combined average of residential and farming properties. The ARC has not justified the 50% loading on business on top of this 3.2 times greater cost to business under a capital value rating system.

"No other regional council with a cv rating system has a business differential for the good reason that they cannot justify it.

"Councillor Harland tried to bring the significance of these failures to the Council's attention. She said she was 'completely unaware' of any assessment of the benefits to business of the differential.

"She also expressed surprise when the supporters of the 50% differential, after voting for it, then said they needed an analysis of the benefits to business ratepayers!

"By requesting the analysis of the value of the benefits, after imposing the loading, Councillors Lee, Smith and Bradley acknowledged they had no idea as to what business should actually be paying.

"EMA is confident a robust benefits study would show, that with cv rating, business is paying its fair share.

"We are therefore pleased Council has at last resolved, albeit far too late, to do the benefit study."

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