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Final debate on fees and charges

FEES and charges for Gisborne District Council, due to take effect on July 1, were given final approval by the finance and audit committee after some final questions.

The original schedule was left to lie on the table at the council meeting in February after some of the charges were queried.

After further information was obtained for a committee meeting in March, the fees were released for public consultation in April.

No submissions were received and the fees and charges have now been adopted by the committee.

The committee was told that fees and charges had mostly increased by the rate of inflation but some were increased to recover actual costs.

Cemetery fees and charges were increased between 7 and 9 percent on a cost recovery basis.

There were also new hourly charge-out rates for environmental services and protection, resource consents and building services, to cover costs that had historically been borne by the general ratepayers.

Rehette Stoltz said most of the charges were up by the rate of inflation and were in line with the council’s rating policy and the review of the policy.

The overall principle was in line with the review of that policy.

She was heartened by the fact that staff had looked at the actual costs and this was what they were charging.

Graeme Thomson said while the council needed to recover costs, it needed to realise it was a monopoly business with no actual competition.

It needed to keep its pencil sharp when reviewing the fees.

Mayor Meng Foon queried why the penalty for late payment of dog registration was 45 percent while that for late payment of rates was 25 percent.

Chief financial officer Pauline Foreman said the charge was referred to as a penalty but in fact the same quantum applied for a number of years. If you paid before July 1 you got a discount; after that you paid paid the full fee. The extra charge was to encourage people to pay on time.

Pat Seymour said it appeared to be a matter of terminology and whether the charge should actually be referred to as a penalty.

Chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said depending on the category of the dog, the extra payment worked out to be $20 to $25.

Mr Foon said people were telling him they could not afford the fees and he told them they had better start saving now. He said the council had good systems for part payment of rates, why did it not apply to other things?

Mr Foon also queried a charge for marquees which he said were often used for things like tangi.

Environment and protection services director Nick Zaman said a temporary building charge only applied to marquees larger than 100 square metres or that would be in place for over a month.