Council 'did best' on rates

HELEN MURDOCH
Last updated 13:00 07/05/2012

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The owner of a Pohara home destroyed in December's floods says he understands Tasman District Council's decision not to implement a rates remission policy.

Councillors decided on Thursday that homeowners' existing ability to have their damaged properties revalued, and rates subsequently lowered, was the fairest form of rate remission which left the council open to the least liability.

Chris Udell said he accepted the council's decision.

A revaluation of the family's Pohara valley property had seen its rateable value fall from $300,000-plus to around $30,000, he said.

"And that's going to have a hit on the next rate bill," Mr Udell said.

The council had done the best it could by residents in regard to the rates issue. "But I think their hands are tied."

He said the council had been really good in its dealings with his family and had helped wherever it could.

The family is renting a house while a decision is made if they can rebuild on their land. "The council has done its best and now it's just a waiting game."

The lead-up to the council's decision not to back the proposed policy saw it discussed in two rounds of council meetings and elicited a staff report before a final vote killed it off at last Thursday's meeting.

The policy would have allowed the council, at its discretion, to grant rates remissions for homeowners whose houses had been destroyed, or damaged, to the extent they were issued with a Section 124 notice confirming they were uninhabitable.

But councillor Judene Edgar said if a home was washed away it would not attract a Section 124 and therefore not be eligible for a rates remission. "There is no discretion," she said.

Councillors explored using the declaration of a Civil Defence emergency as the trigger. But deputy mayor Tim King said homes in Tapawera and Aorere had been made uninhabitable in past floods which had not been declared emergencies.

Acting chief executive Dennis Bush-King said if the criteria for a remission application was only damage through a natural disaster then homes destroyed through earthquake, erosion and subsidence would also be eligible.

"It could open up a huge can of worms," he said.

Mr King said such a policy could not be drafted based on a specific event or emotion despite the fact some people were, and would be, badly affected.

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- The Nelson Mail

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