24 Jan 2016

Buller rates back on the table

12:57 pm on 24 January 2016

The Buller District Council is going back to the drawing board for a solution to what its mayor says was an overly complicated rating model.

The council is keen on a road from the coast to the Nelson-Tasman region.

Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Garry Howard said the council had decided to extend the timeline to complete its rates overhaul project, because it was not satisfied with an earlier draft model tabled in late 2014.

Mr Howard said Buller operated a land value rating system, and had looked at shifting to a capital value based model, but he said it was not easy getting a fair system.

A raft of changes over the years had made the Buller rating model "unexplainable" to all but accounting staff.

"We've got to a point where only our rating officer could possibly explain the mathematics and calculations and how it was applied so we knew we had to come back and make it simplified."

Ratepayers needed to know how much they were paying and what their rates were used for.

Rates review committee chair, councillor Lynn Brooks, said that since rejecting the first draft rating model that was put forward in November 2014, the council had continued to work on a new proposal.

"It was planned to have a revised proposal to debate and put to our community in conjunction with the Annual Plan in early 2016.

"However, we have got to the point where we are agonising over the effects on our community, and there is not enough comfort around the table that we have full understanding of the impacts of the draft model so far."

Mr Howard said the council was also grappling with shifting demographics and levels of incomes among property owners, in a region stricken by economic woes with the mining downturn in particular.

"There have been some big changes, and you have to be able to come up with the best system for the community.

"We've tested a number of models, and we don't want to go out with something that hasn't been debated, and that we don't understand ourselves."

The council planned to work on a model for public consultation this year, with any possible new rates system to be in place from July 2017.

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