Growers’ rates anger

Average increase for horticulture ‘misleading’ and ‘confusing’.

Average increase for horticulture ‘misleading’ and ‘confusing’.

Roberts Tree Surgeons are in the process today of removing five phoenix palms in preparation for the inner harbour redevelopment. The palms growing between Wainui and Crawford roads will be replaced with native trees in October. Consultation on removal of the palms has been carried out with businesses and residents. The palms are being removed because falling fronds can be hazardous, potentially causing puncture wounds and infection if they land on people. Excrement from large bird populations living in the trees causes health issues. Picture by Liam Clayton

“Seriously misleading” rating indication information in the Gisborne District Council’s booklet about the long- term plan gave growers little indication of the reality, the council’s two-day long- term plan hearing of submissions was told yesterday.

Instead of the “average rate increase of 3.8 percent” as suggested in the booklet, some landowners on the Poverty Bay Flats faced rates hikes of up to 36 percent.

Gisborne businessman and chairman of Gisborne Kiwifruit Trust, Bill Thorpe, said he represented 28 kiwifruit property owners.

“The suggested 3.8 percent average rate increase for horticulture, detailed in the WTF booklet, was seriously misleading.”

A staff response to the submission said “average rate increases fall within the WTF range”.

“I believe this is incorrect.”

Further investigation had revealed indicated rate increases for both apple and kiwifruit properties were in the range of 22 to 36 percent.

Citrus property rates increases ranged from 9 to 16 percent — not even close to the indicated 3.8 percent.

“Activate Tairawhiti has identified permanent horticulture as a major growth opportunity for the district,” Mr Thorpe said.

“Employment growth on orchards and in downstream processing will be a major economic driver for the region and its rating base.”

With 50 percent of the total rates demand for a typical horticulture property calculated on capital value, major increases in both land value and improvement value have had a significant impact on indicated rates.

Permanent horticulture was the only rural land use activity that had planting- related improvements added to capital value for rating purposes, he said.

“Forestry, cash cropping and grazing all have these improvements ignored in determining capital value.”

The logic of including trees and vines for horticulture properties was akin to including the value of livestock on a pastoral farm to calculate rates.

“Both are the economic engines for that particular business.”

The demand for services, particularly roading and drainage, were the same whether the property was used for growing maize, vegetables, grapes, kiwifruit or apples.

“It is possible to have two adjacent properties, one growing maize and one growing kiwifruit, with the rate demand for the kiwifruit property three times more than the property growing sweetcorn.”

In 2003, a remission factor formula was introduced by GDC to remove the planting-related improvements from capital value, Mr Thorpe said.

“This seems to have been inconsistently applied.”

Mr Thorpe said his growers all wanted planting-related improvements removed from the improvement value calculation for horticulture properties for the rates calculation.

“The affected properties want written confirmation of the detail of this process,” Mr Thorpe said.

Another submitter, grower Tim Egan, said the indication for rates on his vineyard at the front of Bushmere Estate was that it was going up 5 percent.

“Walk 300 metres through a shelterbelt, and a paddock (with citrus) was going up 5 percent. The vineyard has a much better soil type than down the back too.

“Some properties are going up 26 and 30 percent. It seems to me to be a ‘bugger’s muddle’.”

Scott Wilson, from Kaiaponi, also submitted concerns about the potential increase.

“I see horticulture as a high-value contributor to the economy and it is a high-risk business.”

The industry was already contributing and investing in things like packhouses.

“I am concerned when I read about a 3.8 percent increase and then see predicted lift of 28 percent. I am confused — we see ourselves as high-value business and I don’t know why our business has been targeted by such a high lift in values.”

“Seriously misleading” rating indication information in the Gisborne District Council’s booklet about the long- term plan gave growers little indication of the reality, the council’s two-day long- term plan hearing of submissions was told yesterday.

Instead of the “average rate increase of 3.8 percent” as suggested in the booklet, some landowners on the Poverty Bay Flats faced rates hikes of up to 36 percent.

Gisborne businessman and chairman of Gisborne Kiwifruit Trust, Bill Thorpe, said he represented 28 kiwifruit property owners.

“The suggested 3.8 percent average rate increase for horticulture, detailed in the WTF booklet, was seriously misleading.”

A staff response to the submission said “average rate increases fall within the WTF range”.

“I believe this is incorrect.”

Further investigation had revealed indicated rate increases for both apple and kiwifruit properties were in the range of 22 to 36 percent.

Citrus property rates increases ranged from 9 to 16 percent — not even close to the indicated 3.8 percent.

“Activate Tairawhiti has identified permanent horticulture as a major growth opportunity for the district,” Mr Thorpe said.

“Employment growth on orchards and in downstream processing will be a major economic driver for the region and its rating base.”

With 50 percent of the total rates demand for a typical horticulture property calculated on capital value, major increases in both land value and improvement value have had a significant impact on indicated rates.

Permanent horticulture was the only rural land use activity that had planting- related improvements added to capital value for rating purposes, he said.

“Forestry, cash cropping and grazing all have these improvements ignored in determining capital value.”

The logic of including trees and vines for horticulture properties was akin to including the value of livestock on a pastoral farm to calculate rates.

“Both are the economic engines for that particular business.”

The demand for services, particularly roading and drainage, were the same whether the property was used for growing maize, vegetables, grapes, kiwifruit or apples.

“It is possible to have two adjacent properties, one growing maize and one growing kiwifruit, with the rate demand for the kiwifruit property three times more than the property growing sweetcorn.”

In 2003, a remission factor formula was introduced by GDC to remove the planting-related improvements from capital value, Mr Thorpe said.

“This seems to have been inconsistently applied.”

Mr Thorpe said his growers all wanted planting-related improvements removed from the improvement value calculation for horticulture properties for the rates calculation.

“The affected properties want written confirmation of the detail of this process,” Mr Thorpe said.

Another submitter, grower Tim Egan, said the indication for rates on his vineyard at the front of Bushmere Estate was that it was going up 5 percent.

“Walk 300 metres through a shelterbelt, and a paddock (with citrus) was going up 5 percent. The vineyard has a much better soil type than down the back too.

“Some properties are going up 26 and 30 percent. It seems to me to be a ‘bugger’s muddle’.”

Scott Wilson, from Kaiaponi, also submitted concerns about the potential increase.

“I see horticulture as a high-value contributor to the economy and it is a high-risk business.”

The industry was already contributing and investing in things like packhouses.

“I am concerned when I read about a 3.8 percent increase and then see predicted lift of 28 percent. I am confused — we see ourselves as high-value business and I don’t know why our business has been targeted by such a high lift in values.”

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