• Tony Ryall
Local Government

The Government's exemption from paying local body rates is under review and could be scrapped, Minister of Local Government Tony Ryall said today.

Mr Ryall said that the recently announced review of the Rating Powers Act, a review of local authority funding powers, would include a re-evaluation of the Government's current exemption from paying rates.

"This is a significant issue for a number of local authorities, particularly those which are composed predominantly of non-rateable conservation land," Mr Ryall said.

"For example, over 40% of the land value in Westland District is non-rateable. By comparison less than 5% of the land value of properties in either Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch or Opotiki would fall within this category. For some local authorities it can be less than 1%.

"While I'm not about to give any assurances that the Crown's exemption will be scrapped, I can assure the local government sector that the Government will be looking long and hard at the issue. Some possible options would be to remove, reduce or phase-out the exemption."

Mr Ryall said the overall purpose of the review is to overhaul local authority funding powers and to bring them into line with the enhanced requirements of the Local Government Act for greater transparency and fairer targeting of costs. It is expected that the revised funding powers will be in place for the 2000/2001 financial year.

"I urge everyone with an interest in the outcome of a review of local authority funding powers to take full advantage of the various opportunities for public participation that will be offered," Mr Ryall said.