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Rates postponement and remission
Posted at 9:00am Sunday 14 May, 2017
The Whakatane District Council has approved a rates postponement and remission process which goes beyond the provisions of its existing rates remission policy.
At an extraordinary meeting last week, the council agreed rates postponements and remissions should be extended to all properties which are uninhabitable, or unusable, as a result of flood damage sustained in last month’s storm events.
Under the existing policy, remissions would not have been available to non-resident ratepayers or commercial ratepayers. Flood-damaged homes on large rural properties will also be included, subject to a valuation by the council’s valuation service provider on the residential portion of the land.
The council noted that the decision to exceed its remissions criteria was ‘inconsistent’ with its policy, but confirmed that such a departure was permitted under the Local Government Act, given the widespread devastation caused by the April storms.
As a result of the decision, rates invoices marked as ‘postponed’ will be issued for the 269 properties (185 owner-occupied; 69 owned by non-resident ratepayers; 11 large rural properties; and four commercial properties) which have so far been identified as eligible for rates remission. Payments will not be required until homes are repaired to a standard where they can be safely reoccupied.
A rates remission application will then need to be lodged within 12 months of the flooding event, so that all rates for the period concerned can be remitted. Initial estimates indicate that up to $168,000 of rates may be remitted for the fourth quarter of the 2016/17 financial year. Further remissions will be required in the 2017/18 financial year.
Mayor Tony Bonne says elected members acknowledged there would be a significant cost involved, but under the circumstances, felt there was no option but to address the flood-related impacts on properties as comprehensively as possible.
“People in a number of areas, and particularly in Edgecumbe, have had to vacate their properties until they can be restored to a habitable standard,” he says.
“Councillors unanimously supported this approach, so we can take away at least some of the financial pressures the affected communities are dealing with as a result of this natural disaster.”