The Rotorua Lakes Council will undertake a rating review over the coming months but a residents' group says the process of it is flawed.

At its August meeting the council's strategy, policy and finance committee discussed a rates review process.

The process will go to the full council for final approval.

It will see a series of focus groups established to look at the existing rating framework and provide feedback and experiences on the perceived problems.

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The feedback would be evaluated to identify the key issues and principles behind a rating framework.

In a presentation at the committee meeting, group manager strategy Jean-Paul Gaston said if there were any changes to the framework there would still be a formal consultation.

"That would have to be part of the annual plan consultation document as an amendment to our Long-Term Plan.

"Any changes to the rating framework would come in from July 1 [2019]."

The review won't look at how much is collected, but where it is collected from. Image/Supplied
The review won't look at how much is collected, but where it is collected from. Image/Supplied

Gaston said the focus groups would help the council understand what stakeholders saw as potential issues.

Chief executive Geoff Williams said the review didn't look at how much was collected through rates, but at how rates were distributed across the community.

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In a written statement after the meeting, mayor Steve Chadwick said talking with focus groups would help the council define problems with the current framework, before determining potential solutions.

"It will be really important for elected members to establish the principles of a good framework, so that we have something to assess the focus group feedback against. That will help us to determine any changes needed and develop a proposal for wider community consultation."

Following the committee meeting, the Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers issued its own 14-point rates review.

The group's chairwoman, Glenys Searancke, said key issues were affordability, balanced annual budgets, and the value for money of the uniform annual general charge.

The Strategy, Policy and Finance Committee met to discuss a rates review in the Rotorua Lakes Council building this month. Photo/File
The Strategy, Policy and Finance Committee met to discuss a rates review in the Rotorua Lakes Council building this month. Photo/File

The group was asking the council to discuss its 36-page report instead of consulting with focus groups in what the group dubbed as an "in-house review".

The Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers made recommendations on how to calculate rates, that rates assessments be connected to projected expenditure and that rates are set in a way that makes sure budgets are balanced.

In a written report the group wrote "this process is neither democratic nor likely to respond to ratepayers' concerns".

"The decision by council not to invite written submissions and offer public hearings as part of an authentic rates review is inexplicable."

Gaston said at the council meeting that any changes to the rating framework would sill require formal public consultation.

Proposed focus groups
- Rural residential sector
- Rural village
- Farming
- Lakes communities
- Urban
- Industrial
- CBD
- Commercial
- Accommodation (hotel, motel, home-based)
- Older people
- Younger people (first-home buyers, renters)
- Māori business
- Land trusts
- Multiple owned Māori land
- Marae

It is proposed people register their willingness to participate in a focus group. The aim would be to have 10 people per group.