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Rates due with thousands set to be stung by 10% penalty

Media release

Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Rates due with thousands set to be stung by 10% penalty

Thousands of Auckland ratepayers will miss tomorrow night’s deadline to pay their first quarterly instalment of rates, stinging them an extra 10% in penalty fees, simply because they haven’t been adequately reminded,” says Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer.

“I’m telling local people to pay their first instalment rates by 5pm on the 30th and many are genuinely surprised they’re due so quickly. The real worry is if people don’t pay their rates by the close of tomorrow, they’ll be stung another 10%. Given over 133,000 households are paying at least 10% more in rates, many could end up paying 20% more because they’ve simply forgotten. Others simply won’t be able to afford to pay their rates this week but sadly they’ll be stung regardless,” says Cameron Brewer.

Mr Brewer said it’s disappointing that the council spent over $198,000 on a marketing campaign trying to convince the public that the new rating system was supposedly “fairer all round” yet little if anything had been spent on reminding the public when to actually pay their rates.

“People don’t want to hear the purely political argument from the centre-left that the rates increases are supposedly “fairer all round”. They just want to know when their rates are due and that hasn’t really happened. Subsequently thousands of our 500,000 ratepayers will be nailed with another 10%.

“In the Orakei ward that I represent, 62.5% of households are up for at least another 10%. I suspect many of them will end up having to pay 20% more just because the due date has crept up so quickly without any warning. Some ratepayers might conclude that the council’s lack of promotion of the due date is by design not accident.”

Mr Brewer says the $198,000 of ratepayers’ money spent on trying to sell the Mayor’s “fairer for all” message before the rates bills were even sent out was overtly political, and the money would have been better spent on not only reminding the public of the due date but also of the available discount, rates rebates, and remissions.

He says if ratepayers pay their rates bill in full by 30 August they receive a 1.2 percent discount. Eligible ratepayers on a low or fixed income can apply for a rates rebate worth up to $590 (www.ratesrebates.govt.nz). At the same time people with a ‘licence to occupy’ unit in a retirement village can apply for a rates remission.

“Rather than trying to convince 256,000 Auckland households facing an average rates increase of 8.1% that this is somehow fairer, the ratepayer-funded marketing campaign should have focused more on delivering more practical messages not political ones,” says Mr Brewer.


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