Tim Walker’s Rates

I am in vehement disagreement with the method in which New Zealand councils source their funding.

In a word: rates.

If for example a particular region comprises one million citizens, of which half are home owners, yet each of those million want to use the public amenities the region has to offer such as, the municipal library, the public swimming pool, the public toilets, the parks and reserves etc, effectively, the region’s renters are getting a free ride.

It makes no sense that home owners pay for all of an area’s services when the renters are just as likely and in fact equally as entitled to use them. Take garbage collection. It’s a remarkable service that benefits everyone living in a house; yet only those who own the aforementioned abodes pay for it. What about the water supply? Another fabulous service; a practically endless flow of fresh water coming right to your kitchen sink irrespective of whether or not you’re actually the one who pays the rates bill every quarter…

In fact it’s the plight of those stricken souls of Christchurch that initially wound me up. Going back a few years the services covered by their, continually accruing, rates bill were laughable. Some roads were too damaged to drive on, let alone get a rubbish truck down; yet Christchurch home owners still paid. Their water supply was tainted by sewage and wasn’t fit for watering gardens let alone human consumption; yet Christchurch home owners still paid.

The city was in disrepair and Christchurch mayor, Lianne Dalziel, always seemed to be able to see only one way to rectify the problem which was, you guessed it, call on the humble home owner to generate some more funding – this recent plan for reconstruction of Christchurch’s Town Hall a fine example.

The other issue I have with the rates bill, it is calculated on a property’s land mass therefore, if you pay $2000 annually for your quarter acre section, what do you think a farmer with 1000 acres pays? The farmer receives no more amenities or council benefits than anybody else yet they pay an approximately proportionate increase in rates.

My original point though: everybody who uses a township’s services should pay for that township’s services. Just because a person is living in rented accommodation does not necessarily mean they’re hard up. Some choose to do so, promoting the belief that it’s a more worry-free, cost effective, financially prudent option; seeing the way rates charges in New Zealand are going, they might just be on to something, too.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Pop-Luck Sir Vice

Photography by Ray Tyke

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