New rating move alarms residents

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 08:43 06/06/2014

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Karaka Point residents were "shocked" to read in the Marlborough Express the council was to try changing their rating zone again, association president Richard Rose says.

The residents won a court case against the Marlborough District Council last year after the council tried to change the settlement's rating zone from Picton Vicinity to Picton. The change meant a doubling of their rates bills, with some residents saying they were to have a 237 per cent increase.

High Court judge Simon France quashed the change, saying the council had not consulted properly.

Rose said the first time the residents found out the council was revisiting the zone change was when they read it in the Marlborough Express on March 3.

"We were shocked to learn of the proposal to move our properties back into Picton geographic rating area so soon after the High Court decision quashing the previous attempt.

"To learn of this in the Marlborough Express on March 3 without any form of prior discussion or rational dialogue is extremely disappointing, particularly given this was one of the major criticisms by affected ratepayers in relation to the previous attempt."

Official notification did not come until a week later.

Twelve people, including Rose, spoke to the hearing yesterday, with many more written submissions backing them.

They asked the council not to adopt the proposal to move the settlement into the Picton rating area, arguing there had been no change to the settlement, no extra provision of council services, or any other benefit to them that meant they should pay more.

Stormwater, fresh water, and sewage were all dealt with by residents privately, with no access to council schemes, and there were no kerbs, footpaths, or lighting on the one public road past their properties. There was no plan by the council to increase services to the area.

"Because there is no plan, there is no potential for affected properties to benefit."

Rose and several other speakers said if the council went ahead with the proposal, residents would have no choice but to take legal action again.

Resident Rebecca Woledge said the previous boundary between Picton and Picton Vicinity areas had been set where the town water and town sewerage stopped. That boundary had not changed, and there was no apparent reason why the council wanted to change it for Karaka Point.

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- The Marlborough Express

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