Couple hope to change rate policy

CBAY aquatic centre
CBAY aquatic centre

A Totara Valley farming couple hope to persuade the district council they should pay only one Aquatics Centre rate even though they own three blocks of land.

Mark and Mandy Robins have an appointment with the district council's policy and development committee today, to explain why they should not have to pay the $102-a-year aquatics centre rate on both their average-size farm and two separate blocks of land.

In their letter they argue the aquatics charge was advertised as a rate per rateable household when they only have one house and two blocks of bare land.

"We are only one family and even though we do support the building of this new pool, we feel we shouldn't be paying more than others. We earn no more than many town people and have a family we are trying to educate just like everyone else."

The cost of the new centre is recovered from ratepayers in the form of a uniform targeted aquatic centre rate assessed at the fixed amount per separately used and inhabited part of a residential rating unit, or per rating unit for other rating units.

If the Robinses' three properties were adjoining and all in the same name, they would pay one aquatic centre rate and one uniform annual general charge, but they were neither.

Council corporate services manager Tina Rogers said it was not uncommon for farming operations to be made up of multiple rating units due to multiple legal titles.

Possible alternative options that would assist the couple were either to amend the rating policy so that the rate applied per dwelling, or to add a rates remission policy for properties that were used together to reduce the charge to one per operation.

Though amending the rating policy might assist the Robinses, Mrs Rogers report said it would increase the rates paid on farming properties where there was more than one house.

Any change to the way the rate was levied would result in increased or decreased revenue to the council and would need to be addressed by changing the rate for other ratepayers to compensate.

Mrs Rogers' report pointed out the application of the aquatic centre rate had been consistent over the past three years and was consistent with the way the uniform annual general charge was applied for rural and commercial properties.

She said a small number of ratepayers were dissatisfied with the present system.

It was not possible to make any changes to the rating system for the current rating year and any change would need to be included in future annual plans and long-term plans.

The Timaru Herald