Revenue & Finance Policy (2)
Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 2:16PM
Bill Barclay

The discussion on this paper was notable fo one giant howler by Cr Bartley, who in his usual manner of delivering a sermon from the Mount, drew attention to the 4 year old Census (Stats. NZ) Statistics that shows Whangamata with rates at 8.5% of average household income - 3.5 % over the Shand Report recommendation, while Thames was much less at 6.1% - "how affordable is that?" (presumably for Whangamata). 

As others were quick to point out, the more up to date Prioritisation Survey data shows a completely different picture with Thames on 6.3%, Coromandel 4.3%, Mercury Bay 3.8%, Tairua/Paiuanui 4.4%, and Whangamata 5.5%. Cr Bartley huffed and puffed at this, but clearly had not read the second table, and Cr Wells chimed in to the effect that "they must all be all wrong" - clearly, what is important is that statistics are only correct if they support your case.

You may expect plenty more on this issue before the end of the year, but the Policy planners are to be congratulated for at least having the courage to bring the alternative figures to Council's attention even though they directly contradict the Stats. NZ figures that Blind Ned could have seen were totally faulty, but which have formed the basis of Council's rationale for so long.  

Council finally adopted the a recommendations to go forward into the formulation of the Revenue and Finance policy for later this year, with the bottom line in regard to the incorporation of the Essential Services Proposal being a 10% UAGC resulting in the following changes:

Reductions

Thames $275, Coromandel $160, Matarangi $90, Whitianga/Tairua $60, Pauanui $10

Increases

Onemana/Whangamata $125

Colville, Waiomu, Te Puru, Little Bay, Farming Hort., Rural Other - all $100

These indeed indicate a significant and long overdue move in the right direction were it to be adopted - by no means certain - there was steam rising from certain Eastern Seaboard quarters this morning that does not auger well for its eventual success. And rural residents will of course react with the somewhat irrational vehemence demonstrated durind the last Ten Year Hearings.

What is clear is that there is a new and refreshing wind blowing through Policy and Planning. I trust that the final document will present watertight arguments in favour of the proposed changes.

 

Update on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 4:02PM by Registered CommenterBill Barclay

My apologies regarding this quality of this scanned PDF table presented to the Council yesterday as part of the Revenue & Finance Policy Paper. It relates to the evidence presented to support the proposed  implementation of a 10% UAGC (Uniform Annual General Charge) that would spread the cost of essential services more fairly over the entire district. The net effect of such a change is outlined in the Reduction/Increases outlined above.

Note that the bar graphs relate to Thames, Coromandel, Whitianga, Tairua, Pauanui, Onemana and Whangamata in that order, and the bar groups start at $100,000. Coromandel drops off the table at $400,000, and Thames at $700,000 land value, but more particularly note that Thames ratepayers pay substantially higher rates over each of the land values to that point, and they represent by far the greatest number of rating units to that point. Note that this partly accounted for by the cost of the swimming pool, library and airport that Thames ratepayers fund.

The loud claims from the Eastern Seaboard that they pay a far greater totality of rates, and are therefore entitled to a higher level of service are moot - this is an argument which becomes nonsense when considered in the light of the famous 'District' over 'Area of Benefit' argument. This argument suited its  purposes of course when the extravagent Eastern wastewater plant costs were spread to Thames and Coromandel ratepayers. 

There is much more information to come through on this issue, but I have the feeling that at last, change, and even equity may be on the way.  

 

 

 

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