Federated Farmers Submission for Greater Wellington Regional Council Long Term Plan

We broadly support the intent to provide for a more transparent and equitable matching of benefits and costs. And also broadly support the proposition that targeted rates may enable ratepayers in those areas to make more informed decisions about levels of service and willingness to pay.

We would like to make the point that these principles have been applied to flood control but not to other areas of council activity.

For clarity: GWRC propose that people who live alongside or in the catchments of the major rivers meet 70% of the costs of flood control. In that same spirit, it seems eminently reasonable that people who sit in and on the buses and trains should meet 70% of the costs of that service: while apportioning 70% of flood control works is an inevitably subjective judgement, apportioning 70% of public transport costs to users of that service is a transparent and objective measure.  Similarly, those who regularly visit their local park should equally pay 70% or thereabouts for that service.

We recommend changes to rating policies for other areas of council expenditure as below to give better effect to the rating principles set out in the draft LTP.

Rating Policies

GWRC propose that no use be made of UAGC. No reason is presented. We note that the Auditor-Generals 2014/15 report found that 62 local authorities (including most regional councils) used UAGC, on average to the level of just under 20% of rates raised. FFNZ has consistently recommended that WRC join those 62 other local authorities. 

This is a matter of rating principle and policy which at minimum demands explicit discussion. We reiterate recommendations that WRC utilise UAGC to its fullest extent (up to 30%) for all expenditure areas where the benefits accrue to citizens, as distinct from property owners.