Kempthorne does rate rise U-turn
A surprise U-turn by Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne will see him try to achieve relief for Richmond residents hit by rate increases of up to 270 per cent after the council rezoned their land.
This offers a glimmer of hope for landowners, but they will believe it when they see it.
Around 14 landowners in the Lower Queen St-Headingly Lane area repeatedly lobbied the council for rates relief to no avail after the deferred zoning over their land was lifted last year when a sewerage line was laid to service part of the planned Richmond West Development.
They said council staff told them the rezoning from rural to mixed business would not change their rates.
Last year's revaluations by Quotable Value saw their property values rise and rates double - and in some cases nearly triple.
Landowners said the rates were unaffordable and their properties' new mixed business values exceeded current stagnant market demand.
The council considered re-introducing the deferment or a rates remission policy in June but later decided against both options and said the matter was closed.
However, yesterday Mr Kempthorne said he would meet some of the affected ratepayers and discuss options for rates relief.
He plans to meet 84-year-old Eve Horder and Paula Broady, the daughter of Eve's 87-year-old neighbour.
He said he would discuss possible alternatives he could take back to the council to consider.
"I want to explore any options for relief with them."
Mr Kempthorne said any relief was likely to be on a case-by-case basis and still had to be sanctioned by the council.
Debbie Fitzpatrick, who owns a four-hectare Headingly Lane property with her husband, Warren Goodfellow, said any rates relief had to cover all affected ratepayers, not just individuals.
The couple's rates went from $3132 to $6948 with the rezoning.
"It's extortion. The council's playing God. At the stroke of a pen they can take thousands of dollars off you for nothing."
Eve Horder said the only option was for the council to change its rating policy in regard to landowners affected by rezoning.
Mrs Horder's rates doubled to close to $4000 with the rezoning. She will spend nearly a quarter of her annual pension paying her new rates.
"I don't want any special treatment just because I am old - their policy is wrong."
Paula Broady said she would pay her mother's first quarterly $1200 rates instalment tomorrow.
It was the first time in the 45 years her mother had lived in the home that she could not pay her year's rates in one lump sum.
Mr Kempthorne's promise to try to find some relief for ratepayers offered a glimmer of hope. But any option still had to make it through the council process, she said.
"At least it's going back to the council and they will re-look at it," she said.
However, she warned the same situation could befall Motueka landowners affected by rezoning under the planned Motueka West and Central development.
She advised they get a crystal-clear statement from the council of the effect of the rezoning on their rates.
Residents who gained valuations on their properties as if their zoning had changed would get an indication on where their new values, and therefore rates, would lie, she said. "That way it will not come as such a shock."
Mr Kempthorne said all Motueka landowners subject, or adjacent, to any rezoned land would be fully informed on the changes and any implications on their rates.
Quotable Value Nelson manager Richard Kolff said Richmond's new mixed business values were based on sales of comparable properties within the Tasman and Nelson area, with analysis taking into consideration market movement since the date of the sale. The greatest regard was given to the most recent sales. The revaluation process was the same as that for the rest of the district and used standard valuation methodology taking into account the zoning and potential use of the land, he said.
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