Koitiata fights rates hike
Ten signs have joined some 60 red and blue placards already decorating Koitiata's beach front, signalling the small coastal community's anger about rates increases.
The community, largely pensioners on fixed incomes, has turned to making signs, Facebook activism and blogging to record its firm opposition to rates increases adopted under the Rangitikei District Council's long-term plan this year.
Koitiata resident Eddy Mason said most residents were retired and could not afford another $300 to $400 a year for rates.
"Where do they think people will get the money from?
"The council can't just expect us to lie down, roll over and pay the bill," he said. "They seem to forget that they are our representatives. There has been very little constructive communication from the council to the ratepayers."
The coastal village is largely self-sufficient. None of the 115 properties are hooked up to a central water supply, and most have septic tanks.
"We've got no footpaths, no nothing. And that's the way we like it. We don't want big city stuff and we don't want to pay for it," Mr Mason said.
Of the Koitiata residents, 36 had made submissions during a period of public consultation on the council's long-term plan.
They staged several meetings outlining their concerns about district-wide rating, increased council expenditure and loans for shared water and sewerage schemes, and about 20 disgruntled residents packed out the council chambers the day the new rates were adopted to signal their displeasure.
A letter to the council stated that Koitiata residents had "no confidence" in Rangitikei District councillors, calling their correspondence "patronising".
In a letter addressed to Koitiata residents in June, Rangitikei Mayor Chalky Leary explained that rates were going up around the country and the seaside community was not being singled out.
He said Rangitikei was compelled to upgrade its roading and water networks, and general rates district-wide had to be increased to foot that bill.
Initially, they were faced with rates increases across the board of almost 40 per cent apiece, which had now been softened to just over 30 per cent.
Overall, Rangitikei rates would rise by about 6.5 per cent.
But Mr Mason said rates had increased by 100 per cent in the town in the past five years and the signs the community had begun affixing to their fences about three weeks ago were a message that they had had enough.
Most residents were now facing increases of up to $400 on top of last year's bills, putting their rates close to the amount paid by urban dwellers in Palmerston North City who had access to a variety of council services.
Mr Mason said his property was now rated at almost $2000 a year, which he said was unacceptable as he received no water or rubbish collection services.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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