Rates Break

When I grow up I want to be a developer. I guess the odds of me actually growing up are fairly slim now having already reached four score and not acquired any sudden wisdom or maturity – so I might hope that my daughter or nephew may aspire to such status as becoming one of the great New Zealand untouchables; a developer.

In India they have untouchables. These are the miserable beings at the bottom of the social ladder who do all the jobs that are necessary yet unpleasant in any society and then get despised for doing them.

In New Zealand we have another kind of untouchable – blessed beings at the top of the social hierarchy who are beyond the rules and indeed realm of us lower caste members and who remain untouched by such things as economic hardship or following too many of the legal requirements that being a citizen requires. These beings are not so much born into their caste as they lobby their way in. It’s not that no one wants to touch them it’s just that very few can.

Take the latest rates break for developers in the Far North.

While us mere mortals have to weather paying our rates whatever financial storms may come – developers have been given a further 3 year exemption on top of the three they have already had
.

That’s right.

For the previous 3 years, relatively good times one would have thought for developers, multiple title land owners have not had to pay the Uniform Annual General Charge because the Far North Council has deemed it necessary to give them a helping hand. I suppose this could be due to their elevated status as having contributed to humanity in some super human way. But hang on, medical researchers, novelists or charity workers don’t get the same breaks with their rates bills, so maybe not.

Those in favour of giving multiple titled landowners six years of rates relief at a total cost to council of $269,000 (a sum I’m sure many ratepayers in the Far North could find a use for by the way of library facilities or cycle ways) argued that developers are ‘the backbone of the Northland economy’ and therefore deserve a financial break.

Surely the far North has more economic vigour than just the passive ability to cut up a finite resource?

What about the tourism industry? What would the Far North be without the tourists, 90 mile beach and Paihia? With swine flu, a pear-shaped economy and a 3% drop in tourist numbers surely anyone in the tourism industry could do with rates relief right now?

What about the dairy farmers who don’t own multiple properties, came late to the gold rush and are now mortgaged to the hilt with falling milk prices? Surely they might be deserving of a rates break?

And surely the one benefit of a recession like this is to take the heat out of unrealistic developments that oversell themselves with huge media hype as ‘investment properties’ that no one actually intends to live in and which often leave local ratepayers with huge costs for increased infrastructure such as sewerage? Quite apart from the damage caused when people wake up and realise they’ve lost their life savings on a hyped up marketing scheme, the real value of which is largely a fiction.

Ruakaka and Coopers Beach, here in the North and Whitianga and Matarangi in the Coromandel can give us some instructive insight into the problems of Councils bending over backwards to accommodate developers without considering what is best for the community as a whole.

Do these guys really need more of a break than they’ve already been given?

C’mon Far North Council.

If you’re going to play favourites at least give someone nice a break – like pensioners or kindy teachers. Not the big boy bullies who lean and lobby the hardest.

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1 comments:

June 25, 2009 at 10:42 AM Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

You're right, and a lot of local councils do this sort of thing, especially in areas that don't have—and are desperate to attract—development. But you're right: There ought to be more of a balance.

By the way, I had no idea you were in your 80s! (I just couldn't resist being pedantic; a "score" is 20 years). Seriously, I like your posts, but might never have found this site if it wasn't for Twitter. Yay, the Internet!

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