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Ratepayers hit by more 'sly taxes'


Gerry Brownlee MP National Party Local Government Spokesman

01 July 2003

Ratepayers hit by more 'sly taxes'

Labour claims it'll give individuals 'more opportunity to have their say', but in reality local councils are about to be paralysed by new consultation rules, says National Party Local Government spokesman Gerry Brownlee "It's a sad day for New Zealand, when the Government passes the buck to district councils and barely a word is said."

Mr Brownlee's commenting on the Local Government Act which becomes law today, it was slipped through Parliament in the rush before Christmas.

"The Local Government Act gives special rights to Maori and it'll force councils into a never-ending round of consultation that will lead to more delays for major projects.

"The Minister admits the new law abandons the approach which laid out 'what local authorities could and could not do'.

"In other words, your local council will now be carrying out (and paying for) things that have been the domain of central Government," he says.

"In some circumstances the new law will also allow councils to go into competition with other providers and that will inevitably lead to job losses in the private sector.

"Rates have been rising across the country (see attached fact sheet), and much of the blame is being laid on increasing compliance costs," Mr Brownlee says.

"For example, the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council is increasing rates by 14% to pay for, among other things, 'more staff to meet the council's new obligations under the Local Government Act.'

"And in Tauranga, the District Council's looking to increase consultation payments to Maori from $50,000 to $100,000.

"It has also set aside an additional $21,000 to run meetings on a marae, citing the Act as the reason," says Mr Brownlee.

"This is just the beginning.

"The ratepayer is set to pay an even bigger price for a Government that's passing the buck, and imposing sly taxes to pay for its ideological extravagance," Mr Brownlee says.

Ends

(Please find attached rates fact sheet)


Local Government Bill – July 1 Commencement


Rates Rising

Auckland Regional Council is the largest:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,2542922a11,00.html
- also contains some useful quotes.

Some examples of rising rates:
Banks Peninsula DC: 16.6%
Manawatu-Wanganui RC: 14%
Waimakariri DC: 8.8%
Manawatu DC: 8.5%
Tasman DC: 8.3%
Wellington CC: 3.4%
Lower Hutt CC: 3.3%
Auckland CC: 2.5% - households +5.4%


Problems with the Act

Using rates to go into competition with private providers, South Waikato is planning on installing broadband Internet access:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,2544879a28,00.html


Core Government Services Spending by Councils

Lower Hutt, spending $450,000 on cameras, street patrol officers and other law and order measures.


The Act Increasing Costs

Banks Peninsula District Council is budgeting to spend $30,000 on compliance activities.

Horowhenua District Council is budgeting to spend $50,000 on compliance activities.

Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council is increasing rates by 14% to pay for, among other things, “more staff to meet the council’s new obligations under the Local Government Act.”


Maori Involvement

Tauranga District Council to increase consultation payments to Maori from $50,000 to $100,000. There was also an additional $21,000 to run meetings on a marae, citing the Act as the reason.

This story won’t affect rates but it is to do with consultation and will affect locals:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,2537032a8153,00.html
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,2534676a11,00.html

Interesting Stories

Grey District Council has rejected a 1:1 subsidy from the Government to help them pay for their new sewage treatment plant because the Government insisted that the money raised come from a levy across the whole district. Grey refused because that would have meant people who wouldn’t use the new system being forced to pay for it. So now Grey DC has had to hit urban ratepayers with a new $220 payment on top of a general rates increase of 6.9% to pay for the new $26 million system.

Another story, the Westland District Council invested its $7 million payout from the Government’s West Coast Accord into overseas equities and lost $1.3 million in two and half years. The resulting loss in investment income has resulted in a 4.4% rates increase. Admittedly this is all under the 1974 Act but it shows what happens when Councils do things outside their traditional role, despite all the consultation.

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