Rates bill mistake a nasty surprise
About 100 property owners in Tasman district have been sent the wrong rates notices, with increases big enough to make some of them weep.
The Tasman District Council has admitted making a mistake, and has sent letters of apology to those affected.
Wakefield man Arnold Mason last week urged Tasman property owners to check their rates increases for 2012-13, after he was shocked to find his were going up by more than $700, from $3514 to $4244, for his block of land in Eighty-eight Valley.
Mr Mason said it was only by checking his increase online, before he received his new rates demand, that he discovered he was about to be hit with a 20.6 per cent rise.
To make sure it wasn't a mistake, he also checked his neighbour's rating information online, and found a similar increase was due.
"That was a bit of a blow," Mr Mason said.
He wrote a letter to the Nelson Mail, urging others to check their information - and then his phone started ringing. People from around the district contacted him with horror stories of similar-sized increases, including one man "in tears" who said the increase was completely unaffordable.
A couple of days after his letter was published in the Mail, Mr Mason checked his and his neighbour's rating information online again. By cross-referencing with the written rates demand in the notice from the council, he found the increase had dropped to 8 per cent.
Mr Mason said he wanted to get his facts right before contacting the council, so he sat down and compared items in previous and new rates demands.
He discovered that a stormwater rate of $474 had been included in his bill, but should not have been there.
‘‘I thought, ‘Righto, I’ll call the council’ – so I did, and the receptionist was magic. She could see straight away there was something going on.’’
Mr Mason said the receptionist made inquiries and found there had been an error, due to the rating database holding incorrect information, and told him a new rates bill would be coming out.
He has also since received a letter of apology from the council.
Council corporate services manager Murray Staite said the error affected about 100 property owners, but it had been fixed, and all those affected had since been sent an apology with their new rates notice.
Mr Staite said the council did not know how the error happened, but early indications were that the mistake
had occurred on ‘‘part properties’’.
The rating database contained incorrect data regarding stormwater and district drainage rates for some ratepayers.
‘‘It’s our mistake, and we have apologised and fixed the problem.’’
Mr Mason thanked all the other residents who contacted him. ‘‘It pays to check everything these days. One wonders what would have happened if I had not asked the question and just paid up.’’
- © Fairfax NZ News
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