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Record Number of Submissions Lodged

7 June 2005
PR 085/05
Record Number of Submissions Lodged

Federated Farmers of New Zealand lodged a record number of formal submissions on council annual plans in 2005.

"Federated Farmers submitted on 59 annual plans, up from 50 last year and 38 the year before. We believe this is a record number and demonstrates farmers' pro-active stance in trying to improve local government," said Don Nicolson, a federation national board member and spokesman on local government.

"Federated Farmers members, elected officials, and staff go to much time and expense each year preparing their written and oral submissions to councils.

"We do this because farmers are trying to contain or reduce farmers' heavy rates burden. Many farmers are paying in excess of $10,000 in general rates a year. Much of this is directed towards paying for the wish list and largesse of councillors and community leaders," he said.

In addition to trying to reallocate funding and rein in extravagant spending by some -- not all -- individual councils, the federation is also pressing for a major revamp to the way councils raise rating revenues, Mr Nicolson said.

"The archaic system which links rates to property values is unfair. Rates should be based on use of council services, splitting the significant cost of local government without bias among all citizens and businesses in a council area. Land doesn't use council services, people do.

"On this front, the federation's submissions have been calling on councils to support the government appointing a Royal Commission of Inquiry into local government funding.

"Another common thread in this year's submissions has been asking councils to increase their use of the uniform annual general charge. Councils are allowed to raise 30 percent of their rates revenue from a uniform charge of all members of the community, but many councils choose not to do this for politically expedient reasons.

"The submission process on council budgets and rating policies starts in March and stretches through to late June. The submissions are an attempt to ensure that maximum representation of farmer concerns is achieved in a nationally consistent manner, without too much time away from the farm," Mr Nicolson said.


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