City ratepayers getting raw deal, time for change

LETTER

The over-representation of rural interests on the council needs to stop now.

At the 1989 amalgamation rural councillor numbers were deliberately created in excess of local government population guidelines as a gesture of goodwill, to help backward county areas which had previously been lowly-rated and had poor infrastructure.

But 26 years later the balance of power has tipped strongly to the rural areas, which now have many of their major needs subsidised by the city ratepayers. The tail is now wagging the dog.

The Kaiti stormwater infiltration project had been scoped and was ready to go 15 years ago, but was mothballed.

The council’s previous policy of “user pays” is now a “regional network”. Everyone pays basically a similar amount for water, rubbish and services regardless of isolation, or population. Pest control is being added this year.

Roading does have differentials according to usage. However, Gisborne city’s 73 percent of ratepayers pay two-thirds of local roading costs and receive only one-third in roading projects.

With most important policy decisions being made at workshops behind closed doors, it is impossible for the public to understand what their elected members are doing. It is hard to know who is leading the charge for the “networking”. Is it staff, or a group of councillors?

However, resulting policies and decisions show city ratepayers are getting a raw deal.

Only a 3.4 percent average rate rise for rural residential properties, apparently an effective zero percent average rise for pastoral farmers, but a 6.9 percent average increase for residential urban. Why?

Added to that, it now appears that if city ratepayers want specific council work done there will be additional charges, such as the debacle over the Chichester Street trees. When did this policy appear? Were we consulted?

Change is long overdue . . . let’s start with our representation review being done properly, with the public being informed and consulted.

Councillor numbers should be reduced and lateral thinking of reorganisation, including community boards as outlined by Manu Caddie, should be investigated and seriously considered.

Margaret Thorpe

The over-representation of rural interests on the council needs to stop now.

At the 1989 amalgamation rural councillor numbers were deliberately created in excess of local government population guidelines as a gesture of goodwill, to help backward county areas which had previously been lowly-rated and had poor infrastructure.

But 26 years later the balance of power has tipped strongly to the rural areas, which now have many of their major needs subsidised by the city ratepayers. The tail is now wagging the dog.

The Kaiti stormwater infiltration project had been scoped and was ready to go 15 years ago, but was mothballed.

The council’s previous policy of “user pays” is now a “regional network”. Everyone pays basically a similar amount for water, rubbish and services regardless of isolation, or population. Pest control is being added this year.

Roading does have differentials according to usage. However, Gisborne city’s 73 percent of ratepayers pay two-thirds of local roading costs and receive only one-third in roading projects.

With most important policy decisions being made at workshops behind closed doors, it is impossible for the public to understand what their elected members are doing. It is hard to know who is leading the charge for the “networking”. Is it staff, or a group of councillors?

However, resulting policies and decisions show city ratepayers are getting a raw deal.

Only a 3.4 percent average rate rise for rural residential properties, apparently an effective zero percent average rise for pastoral farmers, but a 6.9 percent average increase for residential urban. Why?

Added to that, it now appears that if city ratepayers want specific council work done there will be additional charges, such as the debacle over the Chichester Street trees. When did this policy appear? Were we consulted?

Change is long overdue . . . let’s start with our representation review being done properly, with the public being informed and consulted.

Councillor numbers should be reduced and lateral thinking of reorganisation, including community boards as outlined by Manu Caddie, should be investigated and seriously considered.

Margaret Thorpe

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Tony Pickett - 8 months ago
Maybe city ratepayers should, in force, only pay half their rate increase. If everyone did, what could the council do? I have a current valuable property as per GV system, it does not mean I would get this value when I sold, but I pay more rates and GST - why not the rural land? I do not receive income or have write-offs with my property.

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