Review of rates may be wider

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 08:46 06/06/2014

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Outlying townships such as Renwick and Ngakuta Bay could be part of a wide-ranging rates review to ensure that increasing use of council services are paid for by rates.

The Marlborough District Council flagged a potentially district-wide review of rates levels as part of its consideration of a proposal to shift the Karaka Point settlement from the Picton Vicinity rates area into the Picton rates area.

Karaka Point residents are opposed to the move, saying there was no reason they should be singled out when other settlements - such as Ngakuta Bay to the west of Picton and Renwick near Blenheim - were not having their rating levels reviewed.

Karaka Point residents who spoke yesterday at a council hearing for submissions on the draft annual plan said they couldn't understand why their settlement had been singled out for a rating review when similar areas such as Whatamango Bay and Ngakuta Bay had not been included.

Karaka Point and Environs Residents' Association treasurer Khalid Suleiman said no assessment had been made of other coastal areas, which were similar to the Karaka Point area.

"Councillors should vote to remove the proposal from the proposed annual plan and forget the proposal or enter into negotiations with all of the Picton Vicinity ratepayers."

A better process would be to look at the areas with the same benefits, same properties, and same land areas, rather than picking and choosing, he said.

Association secretary Rebecca Woledge said she believed the proposal was to set a precedent to bring all Picton Vicinity properties into the Picton rating area, and wondered if the same would happen to Blenheim Vicinity properties.

"I find it interesting that Renwick is still rated as a Blenheim vicinity area.

"Surely a town with around 500 houses and a large primary school and all services . . . should have a rating review rather than 58 properties which has less than 1 per cent of the general rating allocation."

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman conceded at yesterday's hearing that the Renwick example probably had "some comparison in that area".

While a lot of Blenheim Vicinity didn't have footpaths, Renwick did, he said.

It has been proposed by the council that kerbside recycling could be extended to Renwick next year.

Also being investigated was the pumping of town water to Renwick, as this was possibly a cheaper option than putting in a treatment plant to provide drinking water in the town.

At the March meeting where council staff outlined the proposal to change Karaka Point's geographic rating area, staff said a similar review could be carried out for settlements on the other side of Picton, particularly Ngakuta Bay.

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Karaka Point resident Alan Izard said "sensible and rational discussion" should have taken place long before the proposal was introduced into the draft annual plan.

"This could have avoided the feelings of unfairness of and the illogical reasoning behind the proposal."

All Picton Vicinity residents should be included, he said.

Richard Rose said the proposal "unjustifiably targeted" the Karaka Point properties, which received the same or fewer benefits as other coastal properties in the Picton Vicinity.

"It is still unclear what the justification is to segregate our properties out."

Any discussion around movement of rating areas needed full consultation with all property owners who received the same or similar benefits within Picton Vicinity, Rose said.

Singling out Karaka Point was unfair, he said.

Sowman said councillors had listened to residents.

They would discuss what to do at a meeting on Monday, which would consider all submissions to the draft annual plan. The council did not intend to "railroad it through," he said.

- The Marlborough Express

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