February 03, 2020
Rating law change to unlock development
Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta says Northland District Council will be able to take more than $20 million of uncollectable debt off its balance sheet.
Ms Mahuta yesterday unveiled proposed changes to the Rating Act, including making it easier for councils to write off rate arrears if they think the debt can’t be collected and providing greater clarity on what kind of Māori land is non-rateable.
She says Northland is an example of an area where the rates burden is holding back Māori development because people won’t succeed to the land they inherit for fear they will get stung for bills on land that has now shown an economic return.
The new regime will be a challenge for both Māori landowners and councils about how land is used, whether it is for farming or forestry, housing, or to protect biodiversity and conservation values.
"There’ll be baby steps for many who will now start to think about succession to their whenua, think about their governance structure, thinking about what are the sustainable opportunities here to better utilise the whenua and potentially create papakainga or other economic opportunities to sustain their whānau so that is the different conversation we want to happen," Minister Mahuta says.
Most of the arrears are for penalties rather than the original rates.
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