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UGC's on rates are fair - EMA's solution

Retrospective laws opposed; UGC's on rates are fair - EMA's solution

Local government Minister Sandra Lee is making a habit of thinking problems can all be fixed by bringing in more retrospective legislation, says the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern), which is totally opposed to the idea.

"Business is against any retrospective law making," said Alasdair Thompson. "How can anyone plan their business if the rules keep changing?"

"It's equally plain that the councils which unlawfully collected Uniform General Charges (UGC'S) from multiple units must be refunded. The Court of Appeal ruled that applying a UGC to a multiple unit is illegal.

"We support councils being given the legal authority to levy a Uniform General Charge as a user pays proxy on multiple units. Currently this is not legal and neither should it be made legal retrospectively. Councils must bite the bullet on this.

"On the other hand, business is strongly opposed to councils grossly unfair practice of charging commercial property owners far more in rates per property dollar value than they charge for residential properties.

"Some councils like Auckland City charge businesses over four times more in rates than they do residents.

"If Government made it legal for councils in the future to apply UGC's against multiple units and, at the same time, required councils to eliminate punitive differential rates on commercial properties, a fair and equitable outcome would be achieved.

"We think this would address the Minister's conundrum without introducing any iniquitous retrospective new laws and without costing Local Government New Zealand further huge legal fees in appealing to the Privy Council.

"We will be making sure our proposal is placed before Government for its consideration."

Further comment: Alasdair Thompson tel 09 367 0911 (b) 09 303 3951 (h) 025 982 024

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