There are myriad issues facing local government but always keep front of mind the topic that was likely top of the list of most residents’ concerns out on the campaign trail – their rates bills.
That’s the request to newly-elected councillors up and down the country from Federated Farmers local government spokesperson Sandra Faulkner, with the final results in some close electoral races now confirmed.
“Federated Farmers congratulates all successful candidates, and thanks all of those who stood. It takes courage to put your name forward for an election,” says Sandra, who has just stepped down from a district council elected role herself.
As it has in the lead-up to past local government elections, Federated Farmers published a 2022 ‘platform’ of hot council issues, outlining the farming sector’s concerns and suggested changes on everything from three waters and Resource Management reform to rural road maintenance, climate change and environmental regulation.
“Right up the front of that platform was the bald and unpalatable fact that in the decade to 2022, local authority rates and fees have gone up an average 56%, against a consumer price index rise of 20%,” Sandra says.
“For farmers, and many other businesses and households too, the rates bill is a major – and climbing – cost.”
Councillors are lobbied to spend on all sorts of projects and initiatives; Federated Farmers’ plea to them is to remember the difference between ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’, and ask searching questions around value for money of whoever wants ratepayers’ money spent – and that includes proposals from council officers.
“Core infrastructure should be the priority.”
During the Annual Plan/budget rounds, there should also be robust debate around the place for targeted rates and uniform charges “which are often a much fairer way than general rates of apportioning costs according to benefit derived,” Sandra says.
- To read a copy of the Federated Farmers 2022 Local Elections Platform, click here.