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Developers Troughing

Readers will be aware that I have previously drawn attention to a proposal to subsidize developers through a 50% remission of rates for a period of two years. See my posts of 4 and 25 July. The proposal was introduced on to the ‘back-end’ of an agenda for a ‘special’ meeting on 6 July called for the ‘special purpose’ of Freedom Camping. 

I don’t know if this subsidy was requested or offered during the election campaign, but it should not be allowed to pass under the bridge without a proper review. Unfortunately, it appears that the general public will be given no such opportunity. The proposal that will be put to the meeting on 28 September provides for such a subsidy be offered on all sub-divisions “except for the first allotment created”. It provides for a budget of $95,000 for the current and subsequent financial years.

The following is the relevant wording of the proposal that I consider tantamount to an election pay-off:

 2. Determines that it believes it has complied with the decision-making provisions of the Local Government Act 2002 to the extent necessary in relation to this decision; and in accordance with the provisions of Section 79 of the Act determines that it does not require further information prior to making a decision on this matter.

3. Re-introduces the previous Rates Remissions Policy - New Residential Subdivisions that provides for rates remissions on unsold allotments for up to two years.

4. Determines that the previous Rates Remissions Policy - New Residential Subdivisions be amended to provide for a 50% remission of the rates assessed as payable on each allotment and that the policy should cover all newly created allotments with new titles except for the first allotment created.

5. Provides an additional budget of $95,000 in 2012/2013 and subsequent years to fund a rates remission for new subdivisions.

The procedure by which this proposal has been put forward is so unusual as to give rise to the possibility of an Auditor General complaint, and the Mayor and councilors should carefully consider their positions in relation to any possible conflict of interest. 

What it amounts to is subsidy levied on every ratepayer for the benefit of every developer who has made a bad business decision, and who is having trouble disposing of an inflated inventory. It was totally inappropriate to have introduced this matter in this manner, and appalling that it is being imposed on hard pressed rate-payers without so much as 'by your leave', or the normal consultation procedures required under the LGA.

I totally dispute the asertions in 2. above, and believe that Group Manager Policy & Planning Peter Mickleson as one of the senior staff members whose job is on the line with the re-organisation, is reacting to the substantial pressure applied by certain elected members in putting this thoroughly objectionable proposal in this manner. In particular, without appropriate warning as to why the subsidy was dropped by the previous Council. Developers, no matter how valuable to the economy, should not be entitled to 'special interest' favourable treatment of this nature.

Consider too the ease with which the $95,000 budget may be altered in the future once the proposal is on the books.   

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Reader Comments (1)

The ten-year planning coming up for public consultation next year will need an informed public with the ability to present their submissions to Council in a way that leads them forward rather than just being negative. In the past some submitters have claimed they weren't listened to but Councillors have to balance everything up and make the best de-cision they can. That is what they swore to do! Their wealth has nothing to do with it!!! Bill, when the plan comes out maybe you could have a special part of your Blog dedicated to comments on page numbered parts?

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter H Wood

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