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Why Are We Waiting?

17 December 2007

Why Are We Waiting?

Ratepayers are growing increasingly frustrated at seeing their rates bills rise by double digit amounts while waiting for the government to take action, said Don Nicolson, vice president of Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

According to Statistics New Zealand data released today, rates revenue rose $90.8 million or 11.2 percent between the September quarter of 2007 and the same quarter last year.

“These are the sorts of increases that ratepayers have got used to seeing in recent years. Total local authority rates revenue in the year ending September jumped 10.5 percent to reach $3.4 billion. This is $11 billion more than in the year ended September 2002 – meaning rates revenue has increased 49 percent in five years.

“Meanwhile ratepayers have been waiting more than four months – so far – for the government’s response to the independent inquiry into rates. The Local Government Rates Inquiry Panel finished its work in July and forwarded its report to the Minister of Local Government on 3 August,” Mr Nicolson said.

“The government has received a comprehensive report which included 96 recommendations to improve the funding of local government and hopefully stop double-digit rates increases.

“Good on the government for launching the inquiry, but it must now make bold decisions to bring about meaningful reform of local government funding and rating systems.

“Federated Farmers supports many of the inquiry’s recommendations including spreading the rates burden more fairly through better use of tools such as user charging and targeted rates.

“We also strongly agree that the government should be paying rates on its land, that councils should provide itemised rates assessments, and that there should be more effective benchmarking of council performance.

“Federated Farmers is keen to be part of the solution and we are willing and able to be part of any ongoing work programme to fix the situation.

“We strongly urge the government to take the action needed to stop the rates rip off,” Mr Nicolson said.

ENDS

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