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NZSTA Scores 100% Strike Rate On School Houses

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Media Release
NZSTA scores 100 percent strike rate on school houses

The New Zealand School Trustees Association has won the war against councils charging illegal rates on school houses, collectively saving schools an estimated $1 million to $2 million.

This week’s decision by the Tararua District Council’s to reverse its policy of rating school houses follows threats of legal action by NZSTA against at least 13 local authorities around New Zealand. Judgements have been entered by the High Court for five years back rates and costs against two councils.

NZSTA President Chris France says common sense has won out in the rates war, with all councils identified as charging rates for school houses having been forced to reconsider. Two councils are still to formally consider the matter at upcoming meetings but the Association believes that the issue will be resolved without the need for further court action, and that shortly all councils will be refunding for school houses occupied by staff.

“Schools who have had these illegally charged rates returned to them are absolutely delighted. NZSTA has received numerous emails and phone calls from schools expressing their appreciation. It’s a great early Christmas present.”

There is no exact tally on the amount of returned rates because the initial court ruling on the issue prompted some councils to refund rates to schools without any further action from the Association. However, based on the cases NZSTA has been involved with, it is estimated between $1 million and $2 million in illegally charged rates has been or is in the process of being returned to schools.

“It is a shame that we had to spend $10,000 pursuing legal action against four councils that all pulled out before the cases went to court. That money came from board subscriptions, money which would have been better spent in assisting board in their governance role,” Chris France says.

The rates win is the second recent success for NZSTA, with the decision earlier this year by the IRD Commissioner that honoraria paid to school trustees should not be subject to withholding tax up to a specified amount. Some trustees had been paying so much tax on the honoraria paid for meeting expenses that it had not even been worthwhile receiving it.

“The key role played by NZSTA in winning issues like the repayment of rates on school houses and achieving a higher tax threshold on trustees honoraria helps ensure that boards of trustees can concentrate on their real job – providing our children with the best possible education,” Chris France says.

[ends]

For more information contact:

Chris France President, NZSTA 0274 441 397 or 04 471 6411

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