Queenstown rating review 'not equitable'
GRANT BRYANT IN QUEENSTOWN
The Queenstown Lakes District Council will this week attempt to balance the books after addressing a rating blunder.
Council finance general manager Stewart Burns said a "fairer" solution would be considered by councillors at the full council meeting tomorrow.
The first-instalment underpayments and overpayments were the result of a rating review that had not delivered the intended results and "was not equitable to some ratepayers", Mr Burns said.
The council will balance the books by dropping regulatory and governance rates by 20 per cent, and recreation and events rates by 50 per cent, for all ratepayers.
It will recover the losses with a new fixed recreation and events charge for each rateable property.
The new recreation and events fixed charge for a residential house will be $95, for visitor accommodation it will be $524, a commercial property $160, and a country dwelling $65.
The new rating system means the council will have the same total rate take as originally budgeted but some individual ratepayers will face higher or lower bills.
The blunder was caused by the new rating system being enacted in an environment in which the three-yearly re-evaluation of properties in the council's catchment area meant some property valuations increased 20 per cent, while others fell 20 per cent.
The rating groups most adversely affected were accommodation properties and high-value residential and country dwellings.
Under the Local Government (Rating) Act, the council was legally required to put the rating "fix" out to public consultation, and faced a flurry of queries from ratepayers about what the anomaly meant.
However, it appears many found the subject too hard to fathom, and only 34 of the 22,000 ratepayers in the council's catchment area ended up making submissions.
Nine submissions supported the council's solution and 25 opposed.
"Understandably, the majority of those opposing were facing a rates increase," Mr Burns said.
This financial year, ratepayers will pay $48.8 million in rates.
- The Southland Times
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