Over half-a-million in unpaid rates written off

No properties have been taken for a mortgagee sale but Gisborne District Council is doing everything it can to collect unpaid rates, the finance and audit committee was told yesterday.

The committee heard that $572,000 of rates owing had been written off because they were “statute barred”.

The rates related to the 2012/13 financial year and comprised $529,000 of Maori freehold land and $43,000 general land.

Further options were available to the council when pursuing general land debt.

Mayor Meng Foon asked if staff were taking all measures to recover the money owing for general land. He had seen properties offered for sale in other centres.

Chief financial officer Paline Foreman said there were no properties for sale but the council took all due processes it could.

Revenue team leader Fiona Scragg said a lot of the general land on which rates were owed was former Maori land converted to general in 1967.

Other general land was where the ownership had become defunct and it was impossible to collect the rates.

These were the ones to which rating sales could be applied if the council decided to do so.

They were unusual bits of land. Some were pieces of land that had been left out in a subdivision.

Bill Burdett said the report before the council said the reason why owners were not discussing their rates liability was because they found the amount of debt overwhelming and, in effect, impossible to address.

A number of people had talked to him and he referred them to the revenue team.

In the Maori Land Court recently a judge refused to let a sale go through because of outstanding Maori land rates.

“These are the examples of some of the issues in terms of Maori land and why the figure gets out of hand,” he said.

“People will not come forward while they think there is a huge debt there.”

No properties have been taken for a mortgagee sale but Gisborne District Council is doing everything it can to collect unpaid rates, the finance and audit committee was told yesterday.

The committee heard that $572,000 of rates owing had been written off because they were “statute barred”.

The rates related to the 2012/13 financial year and comprised $529,000 of Maori freehold land and $43,000 general land.

Further options were available to the council when pursuing general land debt.

Mayor Meng Foon asked if staff were taking all measures to recover the money owing for general land. He had seen properties offered for sale in other centres.

Chief financial officer Paline Foreman said there were no properties for sale but the council took all due processes it could.

Revenue team leader Fiona Scragg said a lot of the general land on which rates were owed was former Maori land converted to general in 1967.

Other general land was where the ownership had become defunct and it was impossible to collect the rates.

These were the ones to which rating sales could be applied if the council decided to do so.

They were unusual bits of land. Some were pieces of land that had been left out in a subdivision.

Bill Burdett said the report before the council said the reason why owners were not discussing their rates liability was because they found the amount of debt overwhelming and, in effect, impossible to address.

A number of people had talked to him and he referred them to the revenue team.

In the Maori Land Court recently a judge refused to let a sale go through because of outstanding Maori land rates.

“These are the examples of some of the issues in terms of Maori land and why the figure gets out of hand,” he said.

“People will not come forward while they think there is a huge debt there.”

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