The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS -

Palmer­ston North City Coun­cil has again pushed un­af­ford­able rates in­creases onto ratepay­ers, lead­ing to home­own­ers’ and renters’ costs ris­ing.

In the past five years not one city coun­cil­lor has voted against these ex­or­bi­tant rates in­creases with an al­most 25 per cent com­pound in­crease over that time.

The on­go­ing sys­tem is dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fect­ing those most vul­ner­a­ble and with least in­come.

The last cen­sus iden­ti­fied that al­most 40 per cent of Palmer­ston North’s pop­u­la­tion sur­vive pre­dom­i­nantly on New Zealand su­per­an­nu­a­tion/vet­er­ans pen­sion, un­em­ploy­ment, sick­ness, do­mes­tic pur­poses, stu­dent al­lowance or other gov­ern­ment pay­ment or pen­sion, while 7 per cent of peo­ple de­clared no source of in­come.

The con­se­quence is in­creased dis­tress to many thou­sands of peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly fam­i­lies/ chil­dren, and elderly cit­i­zens.

For 39.9 per cent of peo­ple aged 15 plus, their an­nual in­come was a mere $20,000 (be­fore tax) or less.

PNCC spent over $38 mil­lion on staff/wages for their 512 em­ploy­ees and con­sul­tants/ pro­fes­sional ser­vice type costs in the 2014/2015 fi­nan­cial year. This equates to over 61.16 per cent of the gen­eral res­i­den­tial rates take in the same year. The ser­vic­ing of gross debt in the past 10 to 11 years has been over $95 mil­lion.

It is time for PNCC to be trans­par­ent and ac­count­able in re­spect to what the gross debt and in­ter­est pay­ments are an­nu­ally, and for peo­ple to con­tact all sit­ting coun­cil­lors and prospec­tive can­di­dates in this year’s lo­cal elec­tions to iden­tify who will stop this in­jus­tice per­pe­trated on the peo­ple.

Martin Egan, Palmer­ston North

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