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As councils around New Zealand consider next year’s spending plans, families are bracing themselves to be socked with rising rates at a time when the cost of living is starting to increase, National’s Local Government spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“Homeowners nationwide are concerned at the plans of councils to increase rates without any reassurance that they are delivering value for money or improving local economic growth.

“Excessively high rates bills hurt ratepayers and their families.

“Christchurch City Council, for example, is meeting today to consider plans to increase rates by 17 per cent over the next few years. Such a large increase during a period of very low inflation is unjustified.

“This 17 per cent rate increase could be in addition to higher petrol prices thanks to the Government’s new regional fuel tax of 11.5 cents per litre that the council is also saying it wants to impose on ratepayers – one of 14 councils saying it wants the new tax.

“While Christchurch faces additional expenditure due to the ongoing earthquake recovery it has options other than major rates increases and it needs to seriously consider those and the impacts of any new costs on ratepayers.

“Local councils, like central government, need to show restraint before imposing additional costs and taxes on hard working New Zealanders.

“People are already hurting from the rising cost of living. Families will be over $100 per week worse off under this Government’s policies pushing up the price of petrol, rent, and groceries - combined with their stubborn refusal to provide tax relief.

“Communities understand that efficient public services and resilient infrastructure needs to be balanced by councils’ strong financial management and care for ratepayers’ back pockets.”

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