Weekend Sun   

We’re lucky to have the Taxpayers’ Union. It’s an independent organisation that seeks greater efficiency and transparency on how your taxes (and council rates) are spent.

They’ve just released their 2018 report ranking councils by their rates bills, debt and staff costs. Check it out at :www.ratepayersreport.nz

Tauranga compares very well in staff costs and operating expenses per ratepayer, but not rates.

Our neighbouring council, Western Bay of Plenty District, have the highest average residential rates in the country at $3234. For years this has given some Tauranga politicians a false sense that TCC’s rates are ‘low’, but you can’t compare rural and urban councils.

It’s better to compare us with the nation’s 12 cities; at $2553 we’re third behind Auckland and Porirua for the highest average residential rates.

Auckland is a ‘unitary authority’, which means it’s both a city and regional council rolled together, so of course they will be high. If you remove Auckland, we’re the second-highest in the country.

One of the reasons for our relatively high residential rates is that other cities charge their commercial ratepayers a lot more. Wellington charges commercial ratepayers 280 per cent more than residential, and Lower Hutt and Porirua over 300 per cent more.

Until this year, TCC charged commercial the same as residential, but we’re slowly moving to 120 per cent over three years – still making us one of the most business-friendly councils in New Zealand but shifting some of the burden off residential.

Commercial ratepayers can claim back GST and use rates as a tax deduction unlike residential, so the higher percentage evens things out.

Straight from city council
A personal view,
by Councillor Steve Morris
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