Residents hope for rate remission

Farmers and residents facing rates increases of 40 to 140 per cent are hoping for respite at an extraordinary meeting of the Horowhenua District Council tomorrow night.

The council is holding the meeting to consider a rates remissions policy to assist farmers on rezoned land close to Levin.

The affected properties are farms that were rezoned to residential two years ago because the council deemed them potential sites for subdivision.

As a result Quotable Value last year greatly increased the land values of the properties, leaving landowners with unexpected rates increases.

Kawiu Rd farmer Steve Arathoon said the $114,000 increase to the value of his land meant he faced a 57 per cent increase in his rates this year.

"We can see absolutely no benefit or justification for such a huge rise in our rates," he wrote in a submission to be considered at tomorrow's meeting.

"From our perspective a rates increase of 9 to 10 per cent in line with the general increase in the district seems fair and equitable."

The revaluations also affected residential properties, including that of Kawiu Rd residents Colin and Sue Brown.

Their rates are increasing by 38 per cent, from $2695 to $3720, after the value of their land was increased by QV by $90,000, or 64 per cent, last year.

The revaluation had not changed their capital value - the value of their improvements to the land was instead decreased by $90,000 - so the couple said they had not expected their rates to increase by more than $1000.

The couple said in their submission that land beside theirs had been subdivided more than once in the past 20 years and so they felt the opportunity to subdivide their land had existed long before it was rezoned.

Therefore, the valuation increase, and resulting rates rise, was unjustified. Any remission on rates on one of the affected properties should stay in place until the landowner applied for a subdivision, they said.

In all there were 19 submissions on the council's proposed policy change, with the most extreme rates increase cited belonging to Roslyn Rd resident Ashley Magee.

Magee's rates would be increasing by $2539 this year if there were no change to the rates remission policy. This was an increase of 140 per cent on last year's rates.

The council voted on May 22 to make changes to its rates remissions policy to tackle any rates increases that were deemed to be inequitable but the policy could not be altered before the Annual Plan was adopted.

Affected ratepayers will instead be able to apply for rates relief if the remissions policy is amended tomorrow night.

Manawatu Standard