Archive for the ‘Rates’ Category

Statements on councils’ internal borrowing plain wrong, says LGNZ

6 September 2012

MEDIA RELEASE

Statements carried on Radio New Zealand this morning about councils supposedly hiding the extent of their debt by internal borrowing are wrong and misleading, says Local Government New Zealand.

Local government analyst, Larry Mitchell, who was in Whangarei speaking to a ratepayers group, said councils used to have “sinking funds that they could not touch which were to be used to replace infrastructure.”

Mr Mitchell also claimed that since the rules had been changed to allow councils to use these reserves to finance their other needs, they had done so with “a vengeance.”

In addition to questioning the emotive language Mr Mitchell had used about “raiding reserves with a vengeance,” LGNZ President, Lawrence Yule, explained that councils had accrued money in accounts from asset depreciation and temporarily used this money to fund other projects to avoid borrowing externally.  This was common practice and saved ratepayers money.

Mr Mitchell argued that councils should show their internal borrowings in their annual reports and plans.  In fact they already do.  This has been a legal requirement since 2010, said Mr Yule.

The sinking funds Mr Mitchell referred to had not been in common use since 1996, when council borrowing was deregulated.

Mr Mitchell also reportedly said that “council balance sheets around the country show debt ceilings have been reached and there is no capacity to borrow.”

This is far from true, Mr Yule said.  An NZIER report published in July, using two internationally accepted key measures of the risk associated with debt, showed New Zealand councils controlled their debt very well overall.**  It’s the ability to service debt that was key, not the total amount of debt.

“Debt and gearing is low, and interest costs are at a prudent level relative to incomes and quoted benchmarks,” the report stated.  Additionally, the councils in New Zealand which had requested ratings from international credit ratings agency, Standards and Poor’s, had received very good ones, said Mr Yule.

“If communities want new bridges, parks and roads, the funding doesn’t come out of thin air.  It’s unlikely communities will be able to pay for these things out of rates, or fees.  Borrowing spreads the costs over years and provides another vital avenue through which community aspirations can be fulfilled.  Put simply, future generations of people who will benefit from infrastructure pay a share too.”

“It is also important to remember that infrastructure councils buy is often mandated by central government.  For example, water treatment plants.  These need to be paid for.”

“Mr Mitchell’s comments are unhelpful and show that there is a strong need for public discussion about the reality of council borrowing, including its extent and what constitutes good, responsible borrowing, which is very much the norm in the local government sector.  We need to talk based on facts and evidence,” he said.

ENDS

For more information contact LGNZ communications advisor, Malcolm Aitken, on 029 924 1205.

**The measures are the gearing ratio and the debt servicing ratio; debt as a proportion of assets and debt servicing costs as a proportion of the associated revenue stream, respectively.

 

 

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Water is Basic

5 September 2012

The problems we have been having with contamination in the Mandeville water supply just brings home how important good water supplies are.

They come, however, at a cost. Oxford and Rangiora ratepayers have had to bear sharp increases in rates to pay for new supplies that now, unlike their previous supplies, meet national drinking water standards.  These are high standards, and it is one thing for a relatively large community like Rangiora to meet those standards, quite another for more rural councils with much smaller communities.

Most water supplies around the world are chlorinated to add to their safety. In our part of Canterbury, however, neither the Kaiapoi nor Christchurch are chlorinated because their sources are judged to be relatively risk-free.

Rangiora and Oxford residents are soon to be asked if they want chlorination to remain in their water supplies. Rangiora’s water now comes from Kaiapoi from wells beside the motorway and Oxford has a new well to the south of the town.

There are good arguments on both sides of the chlorination issue.  It will be interesting to see what the two communities say.

“Average” Rates – Don’t Jump to Conclusions!

13 June 2012

The media likes to keep numbers simple. That is why they always want the amount of a change to rates to be expressed as a single percentage.

This is almost always less than useful for the individual ratepayer, especially in Waimakariri’s case.

In Waimakariri, there are lots of targeted rates, i.e. special rates for different areas. The Rangiora water charge, for instance, is far higher than Kaiapoi’s.  This reflects the cost of building and running the new water scheme that brings reliable and safe water into the town from Kaiapoi. Or again, some areas pay drainage rates, and they vary from area to area, and other areas pay none – but the latter only get drains along their roads and no other service.

An increase in any one of these targeted rates raises the average rate, but only affects the targeted areas.  Tuahiwi is about to get a water supply  and the rate increase there is part of the average increase.

Another factor is that many Waimakariri rates are actually uniform charges where properties pay exactly the same amount.  Some are levied across the whole District, e.g. the library charge, others in targeted areas, e.g. the Woodend sewerage charge. When a uniform charge changes, the mathematics means that different properties may have different percentage changes to their bottom lines.

The change to capital value rating is also going to mean considerable variation from property to property.

So … when the media tells you that there is going to be a 5.1% rate increase in Waimakariri, remember that it is only an average – some will be higher, others lower

Waimakariri Rates & Debt – Both Low by National Standards

5 April 2012

The Government’s Better Local Government reform programme contains a table listing all NZ’s councils with figures relating to their rates and debt.  There are 67 District and City Councils in New Zealand and in terms of population, Waimakariri is the 19th largest.

The figures relate to the financial year ending 30 June 2010.

The table shows Waimakariri’s rates-per-capita at that time  ($663) as the fifth-lowest in the country.  The average rate increase over the the period 2002-2010 was 7%, right on the national average.

The debt level per capita  was $485, which was 15th-lowest in the country.  The increase of debt, however, was 1115% – obviously that had started from a very low base.

During those ten years, the Council had built the ocean sewerage outfall for something like $35m, which impacted those ratepayers in Kaiapoi, Woodend, Rangiora, Waikuku Beach, Woodend Beach and Tuahiwi who are in the Eastern Districts Sewer Scheme.  The othe second-largest project was the new Rangiora water supply, of which some of the rates impact had had not finished by 2009-10.  This is a $16m project which affects only Rangiora ratepayers.

The effects of major projects, therefore, can affect some ratepayers considerably, and others not at all.  However, they do affect the Council’s overall debt level.

The Council is proposing a 5% increase in rates on average for the coming year.  Debt levels will double because of the major capital projects ahead of us, notably the Kaiapoi Library, Rangiora Town Hall and Ashley Bridge.

As implied above, Waimakariri has a lot of rates that are targeted to specific areas. This means that the impacts of increases in the total rate take vary considerably from area to area.

The Government programme can be found at http://www.dia.govt.nz/better-local-government

Ten-Year Plan out for Consultation this Weekend

1 March 2012

The Draft 2012-22 Ten Year Plan will be out for consultation this weekend – in hard copy and on the Council website, www.waimakariri.govt.nz . These plans are revised every three years and outline what the Council intends to do over that period of time and how it is going to pay for it.  So it affects rates!

Submissions close on 3 April and can be made on-line, by email or by hard copy.  People who wish to appear before the Council to be heard can do so.

Councils up and down the country are doing this, so there’ll be a bit of publicity about proposed rates levels and so on.  It is important to realise that the proposed 5% rise in each of the next three years (largely driven by the earthquakes and earthquake-prone buildings) is a very coarse average.  There will be considerable variation from area to area.  An example is for Tuahiwi, where in addition to the District-wide matters, a new water supply is to get under way.  Rangiora will also be experiencing the last rate rise associated with its new water supply.

Are There Alternatives to Rates as a Source of Local Government Funding?

16 February 2012

The Shand Committee of Inquirydid have a look at some of the alternatives – see

http://www.dia.govt.nz/Pubforms.nsf/URL/FullReportPartThree(11).pdf/$file/FullReportPartThree(11).pdf

This inquiry took place in 2007.

The Capital Rating Debate

28 January 2012

On the right side of your screen, you should see a heading Pages.  To open a page, simply click on it.

If you go into the site via Twitter, the right side might not show.  Try opening direct through the internet.

The two that I put on this morning are:

Democracy and Consultation

Capital Value versus Land Value Based Rating

Sorry they are a bit long!

A Triple Whammy – or is it a Quadruple?

25 January 2012

When it comes to big community facilities projects, we normally do one at a time – as happened with the Dudley Pool.

This time, the earthquake and the justified heightened sensitivity to earthquake-prone buildings, has left us with three big ones all at once:

  • The Kaiapoi Library/Museum
  • The Rangiora Town Hall
  • The Oxford Town Hall

These are amongst the problems facing the Council for its Long Term (10 Year) Plan.

But wait there’s more …

                … a new bridge over the Ashley north of Rangiora.

The Earthquake: How Much Will it Cost the Council (i.e. Ratepayers)?

5 January 2011

The immediate answer is: we don’t know.

It could be anywhere between $10m and $30m, depending on government and council decisions and a whole range of unknown factors. Costs of this size are normally funded by loans because this means that future beneficiaries also get to pay for it.

But to give you an idea of what we could be in for …

The underground infrastructure, notably sewers and water mains, will be covered mainly by insurance.  Additional costs to the ratepayers could come if we, i.e. the Council, decided to relocate sewer mains in the Feldwick Drive / Gray Crescent area, currently located behind the houses, into the streets, which is normal modern practice. (Quite a few sewer mains in Kaiapoi and Rangiora are located behind houses.)

Roads are mainly covered by an 83% NZ Transport Agency subsidy.  We have to find the other 17% but we are trying to persuade the Government to lift the subsidy to 90%.  There should be an opportunity to redesign streets, where residents want it, for little extra cost: it doesn’t, for instance, matter where new kerbing is put from a cost point of view.

Fixing up the parks is totally our cost.  They can’t be insured – although play equipment is.

Community buildings are insured, but in some cases they weren’t adequate before the earthquake, so why would we build back the way they were?  The Kaiapoi Museum, for instance, was owned by the Council.  It was actually a former court house and had become too small.  It seems reasonable that when we build a new museum, that is designed for the purpose and meets the museum’s needs. Insurance won’t cover the improvement, however.  The library was cramped and the associated offices and meeting room (the former Kaiapoi Borough chamber) were also inadequate. A decision on this will not be easy.

The council is also putting staff time into social recovery, although some of this is government funded too.  We take the view that the hardest part is going to be helping the people of our District through what is going to be a very dfficult process.  It is also important that we, the wider community, help community organisations and businesses in the Kaiapoi area through this time. This is why we have already given some financial assistance to the business community through Enterprise North Canterbury and the Kaiapoi Promotion Association.

Another cost has been the loss of income through the remission of rates for those who are not able to live in their houses.  This lasts until 30 June because that is the end of the financial year.  The Council has yet to discuss what will happen after 1 July: whatever recommendation is made will be part of the Draft Annual Plan which will be out for public consultation in February-March.

One Waimakariri District: More on My Position

31 August 2010

The most disunifying action of the Waimakariri District Council since its formation in 1989 has to be the imposition of the 5km rating zone around the Dudley Aquatic Centre.

It only lasted for a year, but it meant that people outside that zone had less reason to contribute to the fundraising.  Local people were being taxed for a facility available to the whole District.

District facilities must be funded District-wide.

Media Statement on Council Transparency

25 July 2010

I released the following statement to the local media this evening.

 Council Needs to be More Transparent says Ayers

 “Many Waimakariri ratepayers are opening their rates accounts and getting a rude a shock,” says Mayoral Candidate David Ayers.

 “The reason for the shock is that the Council’s political leadership has not been transparent with its ratepayers.

 “Obsessed with being able to say that they have kept rates down to an ‘average’ of 3.7% they have not warned many that that their rates increases will be considerably higher than that.

 “Why wait until the rates demands are posted and let those ratepayers find out for themselves?

 “The Waimakariri Council needs to be much more open and transparent.” Said David Ayers.

 Far above the ‘average’ 3.7% are Oxford Urban rates averaging a rise of 10.7%, Rangiora Urban  7%, Ashley-Sefton 11.4%, Cust 6.1%, Fernside 7%, Mandeville 6%, Ohoka 7.7% and Summerhill 11.4%.

 “Most of these increases can be easily explained and in all case there are good reasons, “said Cr Ayers.  “The Council political leadership needs to take the ratepayers into their confidence.”

 For all ratepayers there is an increase of $58 per year in the pools charge as a result of the new Dudley Park Aquatic Centre and an increase of $27 per year for parks and reserves.  “Because they are charged uniformly for each property, the percentage impact on lower-rated properties is greater than for those who pay higher rates,” said David Ayers.  “This explains the dramatic percentage rise in the average Ashley Sefton property and in some other areas.”

 In the cases of Oxford, Rangiora and Summerhill the greatest impact comes from the cost of new water schemes – in the case of Oxford already in place, under construction in Rangiora and due for Summerhill in this financial year.  “All three of these schemes are needed, and in fact I and three other councillors fought hard to get them back into the programme, but again the Council’s political leadership could have forewarned the ratepayers more than two months ago when the Annual Plan was completed.”

Valuations and Rates

14 July 2010

This morning’s Press has the headline on the property page “Property Valuations May Decline.” It is referring to a Christchurch revaluation that is occurring this year.  Waimakariri’s next valuation is due in 2011.

Does this mean that rates wil also decline? 

Not necessarily.  If your property’s valuation goes down, the rates will only go down if your decline is greater than the average decline across the District. 

If your valuation decline is less than the average, your rates will actually increase, all other things being equal.

If your valuation goes down at the same rate as the District average, your rates will stay the same – again all other things being equal.

My proviso about all other things being equal relates to the fact that other things can change too, e.g. the mix of uniform charges vs rates in the dollar, what ECan does to their rates, the total amount the District Council decides to take or a change in the basis of rating from land value to capital value.

Oxford Finally Gets Its Water – and a Bit of History

7 June 2010

New water is flowing into Oxford.  A new deep well in Domain Road has replaced a shallow, and vulnerable, source at Cooper’s Creek.  Prime Minister John Key turned the tap.

This is one of the schemes put on hold by the Council after the last election (against the votes of Kevin Felstead, Dan Gordon, Robbie Brine and me). The other councillors said they wanted a water “strategy” first. 

They were forced to change their minds when they were told that a government subsidy would disappear if they didn’t act quickly – mind you, they had been told that when they voted to defer.

You can read more about the history by looking at the Water category to the right of your screen.

The new water won’t come cheaply for the people of Oxford.  Rates there are due to rise about 9% this year because of it – but the people of Oxford have told the Council (twice – before and after the election) that they wanted this new supply.

The Ashley Bridge

28 May 2010

Cones Road Bridge over the Ashley / Rakahuri, north of Rangiora

A friend’s Facebook “wall’ is featuring a bit of conversation on the Ashley Bridge north of Rangiora.  Its width has been a long-standing issue for communities on both sides of the river.  There is not enough space for cyclists – in other words, cars can’t pass them without crossing the centre line, so cyclists cross at their peril.

Some impatient motorists are very unwilling to drive behind cyclists until they get off the bridge.

And then there are pedestrians.

Even for motor traffic, there isn’t much space.  Car drivers can feel intimidated by trucks coming towards them and sometimes trucks have to be very careful passing each other on the bridge.

Another issue is that ECan has long talked about building a new stopbank to the south of the river. Their concern is that the river north of Rangiora is narrower than west or east of the town, which in floods puts pressure on the stopbanks.  If a new southern stopbank were to be build further to the south, and the current one removed, the bridge would not be long enough.  (It is possible that a new stopbank could be a secondary one, in which case the current bank would stay.)

Leaving aside the length question, there are two matters: (1) cyclist and pedestrian safety, which could be improved with a clip-on, and (2) the general width of the bridge.  People also ask about the expected life of the bridge.

The bridge is nearly 100 years old and was designed to be wide enought for two traction engines to pass.  It seems to be structurally sound, so we have to assume that if we wanted it to, it could last for quite along time.

Most of the roading and bridging work carried out by the Council is Government-subsidised through fuel taxes. In Waimakariri, that subsidy is about 50%. Even with those subsidies, roading (including bridges) takes up the biggest chunk of the ratepayer dollar in the Waimakariri District.  To get the subsidy for a specific project, however, depends on the project competing successfully with other projects in the Canterbury Region.

Note that for the old Waimakariri Bridge, the cost of a clip-on would be shared amongst three sources: Government subsidy, Waimakariri District and Christchurch City.

A clip-on for the Ashley is on the Waimakariri District Council programme, but it has lost its Government subsidy.  This is because the current Government, when it came into office, cut the funding for cyclist and pedestrian facilities.  The same thing happened to the proposed Waimakariri Bridge clip-on, which was due to have been done in the next 12 months.

Hint! Hint! For those of you north of the Ashley, you live in the Kaikoura Electorate which is held by National’s Colin King.

That leaves the council with a difficult question: does it fund a clip-on without subsidy, or does it wait for the subsidy to be restored some time in the future?  The cost of a clip-on is significant and to forgo a future subsidy would be a big call.

Building a new bridge would be a major project for a District of this size, and probably would not attract subsidy for quite a few years.

None of this is good news, I’m afraid.

In the meantime, the Council is to investigate the installation of lights which flash when a cyclist is in the bridge.  I presume the cyclist pushes a button as they come on to it and it flashes for a pre-determined length of time. Apparently such a system is in place in Marlborough, so we’ll be looking at the success of that.

Attempt to Change Uniform Annual General Charge Fails

14 May 2010

The Council is currently making its decsions on the 2010-2011 Annual Plan and Budget.

It had already received strong submissions from the farming community requesting that the Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC) be restored from its current $20 to its former $70.  It went down to $20 only last year.

The UAGC is a charge that all properties pay in their rates.  Raising it has the effect of lowering the general rates for high-value properties and raising them for low-value properties.  This sounds like it is unfair on low-value, usuaully urban, properties, but it needs to be remembered that general rates form a much smaller proportion of total rates for urban properties than they do for rural.  A lot of urban rates are for water, sewer, rubbish collection, etc, which rural properties don’t pay (they pay for their own water, etc).

Lowering the UAGC last year meant that many farms had rate rises in the thousands of dollars for no change in service.  Farmers are saying that this is unfair.

Yesterday an attempt to put the uniform charge back to $70 failed by one vote.  Five voted for (Crs Dan Gordon, Kevin Felstead, Peter Farrant, Elaine Cole and myself) and five against.  In the council’s standing orders, a draw means the motion is lost.  The mayor (who opposed) doesn’t have a casting vote.

My personal view is that the rating structure of this district needs a thorough review.  Rates are not a particularly fair way of taxing people, but ours can be more fairly distributed than they are.

The People Speak

28 April 2010

For the past day and a half the Council have been listening to submissions on the this year’s Draft Annual Plan – and we have another session tomorrow.

So far the following trends have emerged:

  • Strong farmer opposition to the low Annual Uniform General Charge and to Land Value as a means of assessing rates.  They support a change to Capital Value Rating.
  • Support from a wide range of individuals and groups for retaining the budget provision of $30,000 to support the new Youth Development Strategy.
  • A strong push from Woodend to upgrade the Community Centre and its surrounding reserve – and the public toilets over the road.
  • A loud-and-clear objection from Rangiora Airfield users about a new range of charges – and a similar complaint about new fees at the Kaiapoi Wharf.
  • And, of course, complaints about the 5km-radius targetted rating zone for the Dudley Park Aquatic Centre.

That’s by no means all, but that gives you an idea!

ECan and Our Rates

5 April 2010

 According to the poll published in The Press, opinion in Canterbury was fairly divided on whether the Government had done the right thing in sacking the Canterbury Regional Councillors – with slightly more opposed than in favour of the Government’s move.

One thing that has struck me and others, though, is that I think that this will be the first time that I have been taxed (or rated) by a non-elected body.

The Americans fought a revolution over that.

Rates and GST

15 March 2010

Don’t forget that the Government’s signalled rise in GST by 2.5% will affect your rates as well as just about everything else.

I have always felt that GST on rates is wrong – a tax on a tax. 

The Government’s response (no matter who is in power) has always been that rates are a charge for services.

There might be a case for saying that some of our rates bills are a charge, e.g. the Kaiapoi water charge, the Eastern Districts sewer charge, the libraries charge across the District – although even then I would argue that these charges are not for services but for the availability of service, i.e. a tax.  There is certainly no case for saying that rates-in-the dollar are a service charge.  The the level of rates varies with the value of one’s property – in other words, rates are a property tax.

Angry Farmers

13 March 2010

On Thursday evening, I attended the latter part of a meeting called by Federated Farmers to discuss rating in the Waimakariri District.

Amongst their complaints are the high level of rates they are having to pay, when compared with others in the District.  They point out that they are getting the same levels of service as their small-holding neighbours but paying vastly more in rates – in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars per year.

There is no doubt that there is something wrong with the rating structure in this District.

The paradox is that large rural properties are paying too much but so are the lowest-value urban properties – where ratepayers sometimes make invidious comparisons between Waimakariri and Christchurch.

One part of the answer is to shift to Capital Value Rating, which is what most New Zealand ratepayers experience.  All Councils in Canterbury are on capital value except Waimakariri and Timaru.  Obviously, those on capital value include ECan and our three neighbours, Hurunui, Selwyn and Christchurch.  In the period immediately before the 1989 Local Government reorganisation, of our predecessor authorities, both Oxford and Hurunui Counties were on capital value rating.

For an earlier comment see https://davidayers.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/if-you-are-a-farmer-why-have-your-rates-shot-up/

Rates in Woodend – and Oxford and Rangiora

28 February 2010

A friend has sent me an email which said, amongst other things:

I do not agree with you with negative comments about the present Council.  I believe that Woodend rates increase are lower than Rangiora and Oxford, and that is about time. Major spending is/and has taken place in Oxford and Rangiora in comparison with Woodend, and we were faced with large rate rises in Woodend by the last Council for nothing local in return.

 I think that the present Council has done a magnificent job in containing our rates and starting to redress the imbalance between facilities for Woodend and the rest of the District.

I have responded in this way:

The main reason why rates went up steeply in the last council term in Woodend (and in Kaiapoi, Rangiora, Tuahiwi and Waikuku Beach) was that the new Eastern Districts sewer scheme was built and, of course, rates went up as a consequence.  Woodend did get something in return – better sewage treatment and disposal!  One of the features of sewer rates in this District is that they are not rates-in-the-dollar of land value.  They are paid for by uniform charges, which mean that those paying lower rates originally, get larger percentage increases in their total rates when raised charges are imposed.

 The rates in Rangiora and in Oxford are going up further because new water sources have to be paid for.  I support both of these schemes, so I support the consequent rise in rates.  The problem I have with what has happened is that some candidates at the last election promised to keep rates down, then got elected and then tried to stop or considerably delay decent water supplies for Oxford and Rangiora.  Incidentally, much the same group of councillors is resisting adding to the Woodend Community Centre to the extent that the advisory group wants.

What we are getting now is the spin that rates are going up on average 3.5%.  This is true, and rates increases never hit evenly across the District. I just wish the people who are getting substantially higher increases would be told that it is happening and why.

Draft Annual Plan Open for Submission

27 February 2010

The Council’s Draft Annual Plan is open for submissions.  Copies can be obtained from service centres and libraries – and can be found on line at http://www.waimakariri.govt.nz/. Submissions close on 26 March.

The Annual Plan outlines the Council’s intentions for the coming July-to-June year: what it wants to spend and how it intends to raise the money to pay for it.

In the news media, it has been suggested that if you want more money spent on something you should also indicate where the Council should spend less to compensate.

Don’t believe a word of it!

It’s our job as councillors to work out how to do that, if we need to – not yours.

Council Sets Proposed Rates: “Average Rise of 3.5%” means 0.6% for Kaiapoi and 7.5% for Rangiora

9 February 2010

The Council today put its Annual Plan out for consultation.  Watch the news media for when it is available and when submissions close.

You will be told that there is an average rise of 3.5% and this represents a cut in the rate rise from the 6.2% signalled last year in the Ten Year Long Term Plan.  But hang on, this is the same Council that proposed the 6.2%.

The reason for the rise in some areas’ rates are varied.  In Rangiora’s case, it is mainly the cost of the upgraded water scheme that is the cause of it.  Of course, putting a targeted rate on the 5km zone around Dudley Aquatic Centre hasn’t helped the Rangiora ratepayer one bit.

The water scheme is necessary and what is being done is  the best option.  Who I have issue with are those who campaigned at the last election saying that they were going to make rates “affordable” – even although they were told that the water scheme was essential and that the District needed a new pool.

And for the record, I’m not just drawing attention to Rangiora.  “Average 3.5%” means 9.3% in Oxford, 8.8% in Ashley-Sefton, 5.7% in Fernside, and 10% in Summerhill.  In Oxford and Summerhill, new water schemes are the main reason – also signalled before the last election.

The Dudley Pool 4km Rating Area: What Would be Fairer?

6 January 2010

The Council is about to go through its Annual Plan process again – what it spends and how it is going to get the money.  Part of the latter is your rates.

The Dudley Pool 5km rating area is only hitting in a small way this year because it it was known that the pool would be open for only about 3 months in this financial year.  Its full impact will come after July this year.

The biggest question is how can a targeted geographic rate for a facility open to the whole District not increase parochialism?  Some seem to think that the targeted rate decreases parochialism – that sounds like Nineteen Eighty-Four to me.

However, if there has to be targeted rate, how could you be fair about it?

  1. Calculate any distances on road distance from the front gate – not the current as-the-crow-flies nonsense.
  2. Divide the District into two: those properties closer to Dudley and those closer to Kaiapoi – because the community has only two all-year covered pools. The targeted rate goes on the former, those closer to Dudley.
  3. Divide the rated area into two zones, those closer than, say, 20km (about 10 minutes drive) from Dudley and those further away.  This acknowledges that if you live in View Hill, your access isn’t as easy as if you lived in Loburn.
  4. Because Woodend township is split between those who live closer to Kaiapoi and those closer to Dudley, rate the whole town, but rate it at the 20km+ rate.  It’s silly having one part of a local community paying a rate for a community facility and the other not – like the present rate does to the Fernside and Loburn-Lea rural residential areas.

Just some ideas – for discussion!  The 20km is worth talking about too.

If You are a Farmer, Why Have Your Rates Shot up?

7 August 2009

If you are running a farm – a conventional large farm – you have probably discovered a considerable jump in your rates.

The reason for this is that the Council has dramatically reduced the Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC).  The result of this action has been to shift the rates burden away from low-land-value properties in the District to those with higher land values.

Part of the reason for this was to lessen the rates burden on small low-value urban properties, which were, in my view, paying disproportionately.

The problem is, however, the Council has not got the mix right.  It needed to reduce the UAGC, sure, but it also needed to move the rating to capital value rating.  This would have had a similar effect to lowering the UAGC, but instead of shifting the rating impact from low-value urban properties to high value rural properties, would have shifted the impact to high value residential properties and to high capital-value rural properties, mainly lifestyle blocks and the new dairy units.

In other words, the Council has got the rating mix wrong.

5km Rating Zone Goes Through

12 June 2009

The Council yesterday confirmed its 10 Year Plan and the rates for the coming year, over the votes of Robbie Brine and me.

So sorry – even if you  live inside the 5km and are further away from Dudley Park than some people who are outside it, you are going to be rated more then others in the District.

And if you will never go for a swim and are inside the 5km radius, but are nevertheles prepared to pay your fair share for the new Aquatic Centre, you are going to be rated more than your fair share.

This is the final word – until next year’s Annual Plan, or until after the next election.

How Canterbury Councils Base Their Rates – Capital-Value or Land-Value

22 May 2009
Capital Value 

Environment Canterbury

Kaikoura

Hurunui

Christchurch

Selwyn

Ashburton

Mackenzie

Waimate

Land Value 

Timaru

Waimakariri

Funding for Performance Venue(s) Stays In

18 May 2009

The $5m (including $1m public fundraising) for a performance venue or venues has stayed in the Council’s 10-Year Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP) for 2013-14.

An additional amount of $50,000 for investigative work in the coming year has been substanially reduced because it was felt by a majority of councillors (and by many submitters) that much of this work has already been done in prevuous investigations.

Rangiora Town Hall

There is a strong expectation within the community that a significant amount needs to be spent on upgrading and enhancing the Rangiora Town Hall.  One of two Town Halls in the District (the other is Oxford’s – see Corners of Waimakariri in the Categories to the right), there is a lot of affection for the old lady and it is without doubt the most important performance venue that we currently have.

She is worth fighting for!

The 5km Rating Circle Stays In

15 May 2009

Despite strong public opposition, the new Dudley Park Pool will have a 5km as-the-crow-flies rating circle placed around it.  Within the circle, all households will pay a fixed charge to make up any shortfall in the $3m target the Council has set the fundraising groups.

It should be noted that the target came from the Council, not the fundraisers.

Some of the issues around this rating area can be found by clicking the Dudley Park Aquatic Centre file at the right of this page.

Some councillors fought very hard – it took most of a morning to get it passed and in the end it passed by 6 votes to 5.  Those who voted for the rating area were Mayor Ron Keating and Councillors Sandra Stewart, Elaine Cole, Peter Farrant, Neville Atkinson and Roger Blair.  Those who voted against it were Councillors Robbie Brine, Dan Gordon, Kevin Felstead, Neil Cruickshank and me.

It was noteworthy that prior to this decision, all three of the Council’s Ward Advisory Boards (Rangiora, Oxford-Eyre and Woodend-Ashley) voted in favour of a Districy-wide rate.  Unfortunately, enough councillors took more notice of the Kaiapoi Community Board.

Later, I attempted to get a discounted entry to the Aquatic Centre for those people living within the 5km area.  This failed too – by 7 to 4, with me, Robbie Brine, Kevin Felstead and Dan Gordon voting for it.

Controversial Water Scheme Finally Meets Approval

15 May 2009

Water supply in the Summerhill, Cust and West Eyreton has for some time been a subject of public debate.  After considerable consultation, the Council has finally made provision in its 10 Year Plan (LTCCP) for all three areas.

Summerhill and West Eyreton will share share their supply, using West Eyreton as the source.

Cust Township will remain separate from the other two, but the Springbank No 2 well be bought for emergency or future use.

Rangiora Water Supply and Rates

14 February 2009

In last year’s Annual Plan the Council agreed to proceed with a new water supply for Rangiora.  This was after the post-election Council tried to delay it – public pressure forced a re-think on that one.

Rangiora needs a new supply because:

  • the current water quality does not meet national standards
  • it is not protected against protozoan-borne diseases like cryptosperidium and giardia
  • the volume of the supply is unreliable.

The new source for the water will be Kaiapoi, with the wells to be beside the Lineside Road motorway bridge.  The water will then have to be pumped up beside Lineside Road to new headworks which will be located in Southbrook or southern Rangiora.

There is, of course, a price to pay.  Rangiora residential properties are currently charged $136.10 per property for water.  In the coming 2009-10 year, the Draft Ten Year Plan proposes a charge of $168.  This will rise to $273 in 2011-12 and $320 in 2012-13.  The last amounts to $6.15 per week for clean, safe water, against the current $2.62.  Worth it?


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