Rates re­volt

Auckland City Harbour News - - LETTERS -

Ratepay­ers protest­ing about the amount and con­cept of rates fail to un­der­stand the sys­tem. ‘‘Rates’’ are a eu­phemism for land tax.

The num­ber of peo­ple in a house is ir­rel­e­vant. The in­come of ratepay­ers is al­most ir­rel­e­vant.

Even if there is no house, ser­vices rates still ap­ply.

As ru­ral house­hold­ers will con­firm, rates have noth­ing to do with ser­vices pro­vided other than an un­sealed road as ac­cess to their prop­erty.

The rea­son this in­equity sur­vives is be­cause of the sim­plic­ity of rais­ing funds. Prop­erty is read­ily iden­ti­fi­able and val­u­a­tions ev­ery three years gives a new base to cal­cu­late higher rates.

Why would politi­cians, na­tional and lo­cal, want to change this? The al­ter­na­tive would in­volve a sys­tem whereby all con­trib­ute through tax­a­tion and funds then dis­trib­uted to coun­cils ac­cord­ing to pop­u­la­tion, as hap­pens in Australia with GST and the states. Too hard? I think so. projects al­ready bud­geted for, such as sports field up­grades else­where.

In par­tic­u­lar, as the cur­rent aquatic cen­tre in Mt Al­bert will need to move within 5 to 10 years, it would be mis­lead­ing to in­clude the cost in any con­sid­er­a­tion of the cost of de­vel­op­ing the park for wider uses.

Auck­land Coun­cil will be build­ing a new aquatic cen­tre re­gard­less. Se­cur­ing a site in Cham­ber­lain Park gives lo­cal peo­ple some hope of re­tain­ing the re­place­ment pool in the Mt Al­bert area. Oth­ers in nearby ar­eas have been lob­by­ing con­cert­edly to have the pool built else­where.

The cur­rent re­pairs give the ex­ist­ing pool a limited lease of life, and avoid the need to close the pool al­to­gether for an ex­tended pe­riod whilst a re­place­ment is sited, planned and built.

The na­ture of mas­ter plan­ning needs to be clear. It is at heart an as­pi­ra­tional plan­ning ex­er­cise. It pro­vides a ba­sis for fur­ther, more de­tailed plan­ning in the fu­ture, when costs are closely con­sid­ered. Thus, many mas­ter plans are com­pleted with­out any cost­ings at all.

There is no fixed pro­gramme of spend­ing in­volved, and most of the spend­ing will have to be jus­ti­fied in terms of the coun­cil’s pri­or­i­ties at some fu­ture point, within the over­all bud­get. An ex­am­ple would be ar­ti­fi­cial sur­faces for sports fields.

The point of mas­ter plan­ning for Cham­ber­lain Park is to pro­vide for the fu­ture needs of lo­cal peo­ple. There will be a great deal of pop­u­la­tion growth in the sur­round­ing area, and fa­cil­i­ties such as sports fields are al­ready in short sup­ply. Not to have con­sid­ered the best use of the open space avail­able would be ir­re­spon­si­ble in my view.

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