Dogmocracy wins: backdown on fees


Dog owners have scored an epic victory this morning, with Auckland Council voting to put off registration fee increases, other than the cost of inflation, for another year.

Councillor Cathy Casey, a strong opponent of the increases as they stood, last night proposed an amendment to the original fees that had appeared in Draft Long Term Plan. Those fees saw some owners facing a 300% increase.

The issue was first raised by The Aucklander in February and sparked more than 4500 submissions to council out of the 10000 received over the full long term plan.

At the meeting of the Strategy and Finance Committee this morning Ms Casey's amendment was tabled, asking that  council went back to the drawing board.

That was despite two new options being created this week, to the original dog registration fee structure, that would have seen responsible dog owners given a rebate, something that was left out in the first draft. (See those options here.)

Ms Casey said those new options didn't go far enough and more thought needed to be given to the plan that saw dog owners responsible for 80 per cent of the cost of controlling dogs, and council 20 per cent.

Ms Casey's amendment - aksing council to roll over the current rates plus a CPI increase for the next 12 months while a review was carried out - was voted for by all but one councillor today (George Wood). 

During the meeting, which began at 10am at the Auckland Town Hall, many councillors asked questions about Ms Casey's amendment and the two new options for fee structures

Cr Fletcher: "Can you give me an assurance that what you are putting forward to us today is going to achieve the ends of having more registered dogs?"

Cr Brewer: "I would argue that we have, per capita, the highest dog administration costs in the country. What are we doing in the spirit of amalgamation to actually reduce the costs over time?"

Cr Walker: "Do we have any projections for the possible non-compliance for having the fees so high?"

The officers consulted their paperwork, and shuffled the mic between them. The committee, they said, should remember that a final policy decision needed to be made by May 23. They said council will do it all it can to decrease the costs for dog services in coming years..

Ms Casey told The Aucklander that, as an act of good faith, council could "consult with responsible dog owners about services that we intend to provide, their cost and a fair cost sharing ratio between dog owners and council. 80 to 20 is arbitrary and unfair."

Ms Casey was rapt with today's decision "The mayor also supported it. It was a great day for democracy!"

Mayor Len Brown release a statement saying council had tried to balance the cost to dog owners with the impact on rates and officers put forward proposals that tried to achieve that balance.

"Councillors believe that the fees should stay at the current level until the region-wide policy on dogs can be brought into effect," he said.

"The new council was caught between a rock and a hard place. The government arbitrarily cut dog fees to a lower level than most of the previous councils, and the incoming council has been required to set a new fee prior to passing a region-wide policy on dogs.

"We have tried to balance the cost to dog owners with the impact on rates and officers put forward proposals that tried to achieve that balance.

"I support the need to reward good dog owners and the proposed changes went some way to achieving that. However, I agree with councillors who say that more work is needed.

"Cr Casey's amendment gives us the chance to match the dog licence fees with the upcoming review of the dog policy and I support that."

 

The table below shows the current (2011/12) fee structure:












































Description

Standard fee 

Late fee

No dog owner licence, entire dog

$104

$128

Dog owner licence de-sexed dog

$47

$70

Dog owner licence, entire dog

$53

$77

No dog owner licence, de-sexed dog

$75

$98

Superannuitant with Community Services Card (3)

$47

$47

Special Category dog

Nil

Nil

Working farm dog

$23

$23

 








Dangerous dog

150 per cent of "usual" fee

 

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- The Aucklander

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