Special rate for south city irks residents

Last updated 05:00 25/03/2014

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A proposal to hit south Invercargill residents with a special rate has riled some of area's residents, who say it is unfair.

In the draft annual plan, the Invercargill City Council asks for feedback on the idea of increasing rates in the area to support the ongoing employment of a co-ordinator for South Alive, a community group set up to rejuvenate south Invercargill.

But former long-serving city councillor and longtime south Invercargill resident Thelma Buck said she was outraged by the idea.

"They are robbing the ratepayers. I think the whole thing is absolutely the pits."

She believed all the ratepayers in the city should contribute to the work in south Invercargill, as they did when work was done in north Invercargill.

And she is not alone, people spoken to on the streets of south city said the idea was unfair and unjust.

People were already struggling to buy school uniforms and put food on the table without the added cost of having to pay extra to have their suburb rejuvenated, Ms Buck said.

"They are not lucky enough to get a rise in pay like most of the councillors have got."

The council had always promised to rejuvenate south Invercargill but they were kept "waiting and waiting and waiting".

Ratepayers in Windsor were never hit with higher rates when the council did up that suburb, yet south Invercargill could be shouldering higher rates to see improvement in its patch, she said.

"I do think it's unfair. The people of south Invercargill are missing out."

Mrs Buck said South Alive had done some good work around the

area but she believed its co-ordinator, Janette Malcolm, should spend more time applying for grants to continue her employment.

"They should go out and apply for grants like everybody else has done."

Mrs Buck said she had spoken to several people about the issue, who shared her view.

"I am not going to sit still; I am going to do something."

South Alive chairman Colin Anderson agreed that the council had neglected south Invercargill but said South Alive was trying to remedy that.

"It takes money to do projects."

If they did not get the funding from the city council, they would look elsewhere, he said.

But the council's finance and policy committee chairman Neil Boniface said the extra rate was not for projects but to continue the employment of the co-ordinator.

He had mixed views about the idea, he said.

Cr Boniface conceded that south Invercargill had been a "bit" neglected by the council, but said the group was doing more than council's general work.

"Why should the rest of the ratepayers pay for an employed person working just in south Invercargill?"

Cr Boniface said if the system was used it would be like contracting South Alive by giving them the money collected through the special rate, which would be about $100,000 on top of what Southl Alive received each year.

"It's a method which councils are using more and more."

Invercargill City Council chief executive Richard King said South Alive's work was ongoing and completely different to the work done in Windsor.

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"If we look at Windsor, I think all we did was roadworks. They [South Alive] are wanting an extra $100,000 to keep the project going."

Mr King rebutted claims the council had neglected the south.

"We don't differentiate between north, south, east and west. I think they [South Alive] have done an outstanding job . . . I think the council is overall extremely pleased. I think the change is quite remarkable."


- The Southland Times


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