Auckland council rates – Are you being ripped off ? Part 1

A leaked drawing of the State House Sculpture by artist Michael Parekowhai.

On the one hand we have a sculpture of a house   now scaled down to cost  a mere $1.5 million, a mere ornament which the council intends to  buy

On the  Other  hand we have a real house , a home  to at least three people  and two cats  worth less than  $700,000.Which the council is going to forcibly sell .

Then there is a rates bill  of  some 13,000 which was not paid  out of protest  to a very  one sided contract where by  Council was not keeping up their end of  the agreement where by they  were to engage in  open transparent and democratically accountable governance.

While the council  are prepared to pay over the top  for  one they are willing to sell the other because  a pittance is owed. Ironically this is exactly why  Penny    withheld her rates.

Penny Bright   withheld her rates  until the books were opened  just as Auckland transport has managed to do  see here

So the  $13,000  in arrears  rates  have attracted over $20,000 in penalties.  this prompted us to have a closer look at  what is going on with our rates  and it appears that Auckland rate payers are held accountable to  rate penalties in a very strict manner , pay a day late on any instalment  and you pay  10% more ,On the other hand  Auckland council  is manipulating the law and   in  other instances  being totally non compliant.

In going through the  law and the  detail we have discovered a number of things   which are worthy of  question , especially when  the houses which we  once bought  for   tens of thousands are now worth hundreds of thousands  and wages have remained static.

Let   us you  through it , this is the way we see it .

The applicable legislation  is  the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 and  the ability to  include  penalties comes from  a two step process  by council .

  1. There needs to be a decision by council , this may  be delegated but has to me made before the rates are set
  2. The decision made must comply with the law  and
    1. Must not exceed 10% of the amount of unpaid rates on the date when the penalty is added
  3. may be of the types of penalties as  set out in  section  58  being
    • a) a penalty on rates assessed in the financial year for which the resolution is made and that are unpaid after the due date for payment (or after a later date if so specified):

    • (b) a further penalty on rates assessed in any financial year and that are unpaid on whichever day is the later ofโ€”

      • (i) the first day of the financial year for which the resolution is made; or

      • (ii) 5 working days after the date on which the resolution is made:

    • (c) a further penalty on rates to which a penalty has been added under paragraph (b), if the rates are unpaid 6 months after that penalty was added.

The way  that we interpret this   is that these options are available and are the only legal options available  IF it is  contained in the decision by council.

We went in search of the  decision which  Auckland council had made and found it in the  2014-15  annual Plan Volume 1 – Our Plan for 2014/2015  for ease we have isolated the pages concerned they are found here rates related policies

Penalties on rates not paid by the due date
The council will apply a penalty of 10 per cent of the amount of rates assessed under each instalment in the 2014/2015 financial year that are unpaid after the due date of each instalment. Any penalty will be applied to unpaid rates on the day following the due date of the instalment.

A further 10 per cent penalty calculated on former years’ rate arrears will be added on the first business day of the new financial year (or five days after the rates resolution is adopted, whichever is the later) and then again six months later.

Spot the difference ?

Auckland council  imposes penalties  on each installment where as the act  applies it to the rates assessed in  the  financial year and does not  speak of penalties for parts of rates  .

The rates are set for a financial year in this case being  1 July 2014  to 30 June 2015   in the rate assessment which we have before us is for  $4510.81.

There is an  ability to  pay it  by instalment  ,  or pay the lump sum which gives  a  saving of a whole 1.1% . $4461.18. a saving of a whopping $46.63

Relevant here is Section 24 Due date or dates for payment,  in the interpretation section due date, is defined as : in relation to a rate or part of a rate, means the last day for payment of the rate, or part of the rate, that is set out in the rates assessment

The question has to be   : can “ a penalty on rates assessed in the financial year for which the resolution is made and that are unpaid after the due date for payment” be interpreted to mean a part rate ?

The assessment  notice reads  total rates payable  2014/2015 is $4510.81  to us this means that  by 30 June 2015, $4510.81 needs to  have been paid  being the financial year as   determined by  45 (1) (j).  and most importantly  45 (1) (k)  which states “the total amount of rates payable on the rating unit for the financial year”

while Auckland council asks for  the  payments to be made by four equal installments , the overall obligation is to clear the rates due  in that financial year .

The regime  should be more in line   with retail  being

  1.  the price which is due  on the due date  .. in this case  $4510.81 by 30 June 2015
  2. the  discounted price if paid  in its entirety early, this is usually heavily discounted
  3. The price if paid by installments which should be equal to  or  as an incentive less than the  demanded price

At all times the  right to pay the full  rates demand   by the  30th June  in one payment should  remain an option  as that  way you are  payign your entire rates in the year that it is due.

If you were to  pay it in a lump sum  under the  Auckland council regime , and still be complying with legislation you would  incur  penalties  of $338.10 ( being as stated on the notice  $122.70 per installment ). Compare the  extra  penalties  for being complaint with the law  to  the savings  for paying  early  one gives you a penalty of $33.10 the other a saving of just $46.63 a difference  of   $291.47, so why   is the money in Auckland councils pocket worth more than in yur pocket.. should it not be at least equal ?

more in part 2  the juiciest is yet to come.

Leave a Reply