Focus on the Land
Partial remission possible for some
Friday, August 24, 2012
PARTIAL remissions are being looked at by Gisborne District Council as one way of meeting the problem of some farm properties facing large rate increases. It will also suppress penalty payments for them.
This was the outcome of a deliberative session held after yesterday’s council meeting, at which about 50 farmers protested against the increases they were facing.
Chief executive Judy Campbell said thew council was very sympathetic to the issue, that had seen some rates bills increase by around 90 percent.
They would review their options and that might include a partial remission. Council staff were modelling this and the impact it might have on council finances.
Mrs Campbell said the sort of rates increase they were looking at for this remedy was 30 percent and above.
The finance and monitoring committee would discuss this further, which would be public-excluded. It would end up with a recommendation to the September council meeting, to be discussed in normal business.
In the meantime, for those who had contacted the council and were in dispute over their rates, the council would put in place a suppression of the penalty process for rates that were due for payment today.
Other people who fitted the same criteria could get in touch with the council and could be part of this process.
“This is not, and it is an important point, for anybody who does not pay their rates,” she said. “It is for those who have specifically contacted us and are on the list of disputed properties.”
That was the specific group who had substantial unexpected rates increases.
Explaining why the increases were unexpected, corporate services group manager Mike Drummond said the highly targeted nature of council rates meant that with a lot of factors changing, you could get pockets where the movement was extremely high one way or the other.
“For our modelling we use a sampling of properties across the district. This particular group of properties that have been adversely affected did not show in that sample so we are reviewing our modelling to improve it —because we don’t want to have this problem arising again,” he said.
Mrs Campbell said there were 22,000 properties paying rates and this situation involved just 50 or 60. It was a pocket who were severely affected, which was why the council was sympathetic.
On a slightly different issue, councillor Pat Seymour wanted to remind people that rural properties had a change in the Uniform Annual General Charge process which now charged per dwelling. That was based on the council’s record of dwellings.
They should check the charge and get in touch with the council if any of these dwellings were either derelict, being used for storage, or some other purpose no longer related to the running of the farm.
They could also apply for a remission if the house was occupied by an employee who was essential to the running of the farm.
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