The recently released independent report commissioned by central government makes 96 recommendations on rates reform. These are some of the suggestions I like the look of: 

  • While rates should remain the main source of funding for local government, they should be no more than 50 per cent of total revenues, the inquiry recommended.
  • Greater funding is recommended from central government
  • Making Crown-owned locations like polytechnics, hospitals and schools pay rates
  • More user-pays policies on things like water (especially for industry/commercial purposes), roading (especially traffic that does the most damage to roads), and building consents
  • The abolition of fixed charges currently incorporated in rates bills
  • Maori-owned land rating valuations should be changed
  • The Resource Management Act and Building Act were noted as factors that had required a rise in council staff levels.

I think the key issue Tairawhiti should be working on with central government is accessing additional funding to support our unique needs as a low population, high deprivation, geographically large and isolated region.

GDC has of course recently turned down funding offered by central government ($270,000 for crime prevention projects offered in 2006, and $30,000 in 2004 for a regional youth development project).

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