Rates Inquiry Terms of Reference Disappointing
THE nationwide CAMPAIGN TO REPLACE THE PRESENT SYSTEM OF COUNCIL RATES WITH A FAIRER SYSTEM INCLUDING RESTRAINTS ON COUNCILS ABILITY TO INCREASE EXPENDITURE WITHOUT THE SPECIFIC APPROVAL OF THE COMMUNITY
MEDIA RELEASE 1 November 2006
INDEPENDENT RATES INQUIRY TERMS OF REFERENCE DISAPPOINTING.
INQUIRY SHOULD HAVE A SINGLE PURPOSE – TO FIND AN ALTERNATIVE TO RATES.
The terms of reference for the Independent Inquiry into rates are a huge disappointment as they seem to be concentrated on enhancing the present rating system rather than looking at real alternatives such as local income tax, local sales tax, per capita tax or any number of alternative schemes currently in place or under consideration in other countries around the world.
The terms of reference do not include a requirement to examine the role and activities of local councils – in fact it seems these issue are specifically excluded.
Nor do they make reference to seeking measures to restrict council expenditure to levels which are affordable to, and accepted by, local communities.
By not including those requirements the Inquiry will not be meeting the public’s expectation that it should produce an alternative system of funding local government..
This Inquiry will be doomed from the start if its terms of reference are not expanded to cover these two issues.
The Minister of Local Government, Mark Burton, has set July 31st next year as the date by which the Inquiry must report – which means that ratepayers will again be subjected to huge rate increases next year.
The Local Authority Funding Project, which has been looking at funding issues for almost three years, has already concluded that, for many councils, the current rating system is no longer sustainable.
This view on unsustainability is now widely shared within the community generally – and especially among those on low or fixed incomes.
It is extremely disturbing to note that that the
Government uses the phrase ‘enhance the rating system’
throughout the Terms of Reference.
The word ‘enhance’, according to the Oxford Dictionary, means ‘improving something already of good quality’. But the ongoing anger about rates is largely focused on the unfairness of the present system – and few people would describe the system as ‘of good quality’.
The public is demanding major changes to the system – and not just tinkering with the existing flawed system,
Many of our supporters will be disapponted with these limited and biased Terms of Reference but nevertheless I would urge every ratepayer to make submissions to the Inquiry – and spell out in no uncertain terms how they are affected by the present unfair system.