Rates help in a disaster

Tasman homeowners will be able to apply for rates relief if their houses or land are destroyed through natural disaster.

The council yesterday adopted the rate remission policy for land occupied by a dwelling that is affected by natural disaster on the back of supporting submissions to its September meeting that were driven by prolonged council discussion earlier in the year on the damage to homes in last December's floods.

The discretionary policy will allow the council to remit all or part of rates, or charges, levied on land affected by natural disaster and, where applicable, homes made uninhabitable.

The home has to be occupied by the ratepayer as a principal place of residence, so holiday homes and rented properties miss out.

The remission time period and amount of the rate relief given was up to the council.

However, councillor Zane Mirfin was concerned at the policy's potential impact on the council if a massive earthquake destroyed thousands of homes.

Deputy Mayor Tim King was also concerned about the policy's financial viability.

He asked if the policy covered homes destroyed by forest fire.

"It's a bizarre anomaly," he said.

Chief executive Linsday Mckenzie said if the fire started through a lightning strike, the homeowner could apply for relief.

The policy allowed the council to provide relief, it did not require relief be provided, he said.

The Nelson Mail