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Anger at pools rates rise

ANNA LOREN
Last updated 05:00 26/07/2013

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Free pools are making a splash but the feedback is not all positive.

Both the Otara-Papatoetoe and Mangere-Otahuhu local boards have received complaints after introducing a targeted rate to keep pools free. The targeted rate will push up rates bills by $13 for properties in Mangere-Otahuhu and $31 in Otara-Papatoetoe when they arrive in early August.

Auckland Council's chief financial officer Andrew McKenzie says that is an increase of about 0.02 per cent to the average bill.

That allows all swimmers to retain free access to the Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa Leisure Centre, the Norman Kirk Memorial Pools and Papatoetoe Centennial Pools.

Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board chairman Peter Skelton says he has received "quite a lot" of letters and phone calls from ratepayers voicing their displeasure at the increased rates. Most of the complaints came from residents of Mangere Bridge, he says.

"What they're saying is why should they be paying for the pool when they don't use the pool," he says.

"What annoys me is, when we went out and did the consultation why didn't they say something then rather than waiting until now when everything's gone through?"

Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board chairman John McCracken says he has received "maybe a dozen" similar complaints from ratepayers who do not swim at the pools.

He too is disappointed that those people did not come forward during the consultation period for the targeted rate.

"I'm very mindful that it's going to affect some people who don't use the pools but at the end of the day the decision was made based on the feedback we had," he says.

"I don't use the pool either but I know a hell of a lot of our community do. We know that it would affect a large number of the families who simply can't afford to use them [if they have to pay]."

Mr McCracken says the pools might have lost revenue if entry fees were introduced, which could have eventually led to their closure.

A great deal of effort was made to make sure ratepayers knew about the proposal but the low numbers of submissions were cause for concern, he says.

"With the consultation process, I really do question whether the systems are in place or whether they're robust enough. It is always unfortunate that not everyone was aware of it."

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- Manukau Courier

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