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Your Questions Answered - Elected officials needed when commissioners finished


john robertson(copy)Over the past two weeks I have met with a number of Mangawhai property owners who have been withholding their rates for several years. Monies owed ranged from $4,000 to over $100,000. The meetings included two property owners who I had met with previously, but otherwise were with people I did not know. Following the meetings, all but one of the property owners paid their rates.

The matters discussed gave me an appreciation of the concerns that remain with the community, 21 months into our term as Commissioners. They included:

„ Expressions of annoyance over the past actions of Council.
„ Discomfort about withholding rates and a desire to become compliant with the law.
„ Questions over rating levels going forward.
„ Questions over actions being taken by Council to hold people or organisations to account.
„ Anxiety over whether Council might revert to poor governance when the Commissioners end their time in October 2015.

The last three of these points are worth addressing. Rating levels going forward Councils set their budgets annually, typically in June for their financial year beginning 1 July. Kaipara District Council set its budgets last month, forecasting both revenue and expenditure levels. We increased the revenue to be derived from rates by 2.5 percent. This means that when property owners receive their rate notices for the current year, they should expect rate increases around about this level. Some will be above and some below this change, according to the components of their rate.

Councils are also required to maintain a Long Term Plan which estimates over ten years the revenue and expenditure levels anticipated. Kaipara District Council’s long term plan forecasts annual increases in revenue derived from rates at close to the rate of inflation.

The Commissioners set the current Long Term Plan for Kaipara. A new Council could change this Plan, but unless such a Council increased expenditure or changed the rating model, the rating elements of such a Plan should not change significantly.

Actions being taken by Council to hold people to account Council is continuing its work aimed at holding people and organisations who caused the Council to incur losses to account. I am hopeful that we can provide a full report on progress in the next two months.

October 2015 – governance after Commissioners Elections are to be held in October 2015. This is when the Commissioners time will come to an end. Our task is to leave a Council in good shape, and that we will do.

Kaipara residents will determine who is elected to replace us. The Council needs Elected Members with a good range of experience and skills. If you are considering standing and want to receive advice on the role, a Commissioner would be pleased to meet with you. Closer to the time, Council will run some workshops to explain what governance is about.

Feel free to email me with any questions – jrobertson@kaipara. govt.nz

The latest with the MRRA and litigation Regrettably, the MRRA has filed an appeal against the key decisions of the High Court. This is disruptive for your Council, as yet again we will need to invest time and money defending these proceedings at significant cost to ratepayers, this time in the Court of Appeal.

To those who have paid we would like to thank those non-paying ratepayers who have paid their rates over the recent month since the Judicial Review decisions were released.
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