Mayor’s Message 7

5 July 2019

In my last Mayor’s Message, I spoke about the possible creation of additional rating categories.

Due to representations from a section of the rural rate base, I propose to encourage my fellow Councillors to take a close look at whether an even higher order-smoothing tool may be able to be introduced. This study would look at the purpose for which every parcel of land in each category is being used.

The outcome may be to introduce a greater number of categories. The feeling by some rural landholders whose rates were impacted by the roll in of the road levy and then again by the recent Valuer General’s change to unimproved capital values, consider that the average rural ratepayer is paying  more than their fair share of rates and have been doing so for many years. Their justification for this claim is that they have received very poor service particularly in the road department.

A simple example of new categories for rural land, for example, may be if a farm is also engaging in an intensive feedlot or piggery. Or indeed, an orchard or even a windfarm. The usage of roads and services under these circumstances could be greater than if the farm is being used for traditional farming purposes. Or for Urban residential land which houses strata title units or apartments that have multiple people living on the same allotment.

This argument may or may not be accepted by rank and file ratepayers, however, it has been brought to our attention for consideration. The catch is that if some ratepayers pay less, others will have to pay more. The task of looking at this possibility, as other Councils have done, requires more than a quick-fix solution. Ideas and solutions must be researched thoroughly together with ratepayer consultation. Whether anything changes remains to be determined. The determination will need to pass the test of being fair, open, honest and transparent.