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).