Rates hold-outs face land sale

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By PET­RICE TARRANT

Le­niency will no longer be given to South Waikato ratepay­ers who owe thou­sands in out­stand­ing rates.

Deputy Chief ex­ec­u­tive Ben Smit said coun­cil’s pre­vi­ous em­pha­sis had not been on long term debt col­lec­tion but that was to change.

‘‘Out of fair­ness to oth­ers who do pay their rates on time we need to col­lect them.’’

There are 16 prop­er­ties in the dis­trict that are po­ten­tially up for a rat­ing sale with a to­tal amount of rates ow­ing of $186,824.34.

There are two pro­cesses the coun­cil can use to col­lect rates through prop­erty sales, a rat­ing sale or an aban­doned land sale.

Aban­doned land is one the owner has sim­ply walked away from and not paid rates for at least three years.

The coun­cil must get the prop­erty legally de­clared aban­doned be­fore sell­ing it, re­triev­ing monies owed and putting the re­main­der into a pub­lic trust.

If the prop­erty owner re­turns, he or she can claim the re­main­der.

Mr Smit en­cour­ages peo­ple to ap­ply for a rates re­bate even if they think they won’t get it.

‘‘A lot of th­ese [ratepay­ers] aren’t aware of the pro­gramme or they are em­bar­rassed be­cause they feel like it’s a hand­out but they’re en­ti­tled to it,’’ he said. ‘‘It can kill over 1⁄ to 1⁄ of your

3 2 rates.’’

Do you qual­ify? The South Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil urges peo­ple to ap­ply for a rates re­bate.

The coun­cil re­ceives around 900 re­bate ap­pli­ca­tions a year.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Kerry Fabrie said it is likely this could be much higher.

‘‘We of­ten find ratepay­ers who do not know about the scheme and would have qual­i­fied if they ap­plied.’’

Re­bates close June 30.

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