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Basil's Faulty On Rates

Basil's Faulty On Rates

Comments by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) President Basil Morrison highlight the reasons why farmers are frustrated at their unfair rates burden, said Charlie Pedersen, Vice President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

The reported remarks today by LGNZ president Basil Morrison implied that farmers were not paying enough rates for the services they received.

"This comment is so incredible it would be laughable if it was made by anyone else. But Mr Morrison is president of an organisation that represents the national interests of all 86 councils of New Zealand.

"I'm sure that no farmer receives more services than he or she pays in general rates.

"To say that the value farmers receive from councils outweighs the rates they pay is absurd. Basil knows that farmers are rated not on their use of services such as swimming pools and public libraries, but instead on the value of their land. Farmers would on average use these council services no more than any other group of people living in a council area," Mr Pedersen said.

"To hear the facts, Mr Morrison should talk to members of the Federation's newly-formed 10K Rates Club. The club was set up to highlight the high rates burden on farmers and has initially signed up 84 farmers paying a total of $1.5 million, or an average of $17,800 each, in general rates.

"How could any farming family use anything like $17,800 worth of council services?" he said.

"It's important to note we are talking about general rates, and not specific rates added to pay for special services such as flood protection, drainage, water and, in some case, roads. It’s the general rates demand which upsets farmers, not the rates for services they actually use," Mr Pedersen said.

Mr Pedersen is also disappointed at the comments attributed to Local Government Minister Chris Carter in the same report. Mr Carter's spokesman said that 25 percent of local body seats were taken by farmers.

"Even if that were true, 25 percent is obviously not enough to bring about fairer rating policies. These policies are hamstrung by legislation forcing councils to raise at least 70 percent of their revenue from property-based rates," Mr Pedersen said.

"In any event, the percentage of councillors who are farmers or ex farmers should not be a factor in determining fair rating policies."

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