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Ratepayer Referendum

Ratepayer Referendum

ACT Leader Richard Prebble said today he believed it was wrong that a local council like the Auckland Regional Council could increase rates by a massive 34 percent.

"No householder had notice and the rate increases will cause real financial stress.

"ACT believes there needs to be some check on councils," Mr Prebble said.

"I have asked ACT's Deputy Leader and spokesman on local government, Ken Shirley, to look at the feasibility of a private member's bill to amend the Local Government Act whereby ratepayers can request a referendum on any rate rise greater than the rate of inflation.

"Such a proposal fits in with local body legislation. There has been, for many years, the right of ratepayers to request a poll when the local body seeks to raise a large loan.

"The Regional Council has been the author of its own problems. The Council has been promoting very expensive schemes like passenger rail without advising ratepayers, 96 percent of whom will never use rail, that these schemes will cause an explosion in rates.

"A referendum on rate rises would force the local body politicians to have to justify their grandiose expenditure.

"I note that in Britain, where the ratepayers of Bristol were able to force a referendum on rates, it was defeated; 54 percent voted for no rise.

"I predict that a referendum in Auckland on the Auckland Regional Council's proposals would be massively defeated," said Richard Prebble.

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