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Spare A Thought For The Ratepayers

10 August 2004

Spare A Thought For The Ratepayers

New Zealand First is urging local councils to take ratepayers’ views into account when making decisions on the projects they will fund. Ratepayers need to be fully informed of councils’ cost-benefit analysis for each project.

This follows reports that many councils are resorting to “unsustainable levels” of public debt and are manipulating their 10-year plans to keep rates down in order to administer powers passed on from central government. “According to reports, if councils were doing the spread of funding that they should be doing over the 10-year period, then most of their rates increases would be double figures,” said local government spokesperson Jim Peters.

“The need for extra funding to administer powers passed on from central government has left councils seriously struggling to keep on top of their finances. Rising debt has meant that some councils have had to do away with debt to income ratios devised as recently as two or three years ago.

“New Zealand First believes that councils should first concentrate on providing essential services to ratepayers.

“Population growth, business growth, infrastructural demands, and the public’s expectations of better services have placed councils under a great deal of financial strain. If they want to maintain any sort of financial stability, councils must be encouraged to pay off existing debt, alongside sustainable long term borrowing tools.

“They should find out what the ratepayers really want before committing to new expensive projects,” Mr Peters concluded.


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