Call for emailed rates notices

Dunedin ratepayer Grant Cross says it is environmentally irresponsible of the Dunedin City...
Dunedin ratepayer Grant Cross says it is environmentally irresponsible of the Dunedin City Council not to offer an electronic version of its rates-notices. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
Like many ratepayers, Grant Cross was fuming after finding a rates bill in his letterbox.

But it was not the amount that annoyed the Dunedin ratepayer, it was how the bill was delivered.

If electricity bills or bank statements could be sent by email, there was no reason the Dunedin City Council could not send rates bills electronically, Mr Cross said.

The council could save tonnes of paper waste and ink, just by offering the electronic service, he said.

``Everywhere else gives people a choice. I have the choice to use reusable bags at the supermarket, I have the choice to use a bin instead of the council's plastic rubbish bags.''

He had repeatedly approached the council asking for the choice to receive the notice by email but each time was told it was not possible at present.

Council financial controller Gavin Logie said post was the most effective method to deliver the 55,000 rates notices the council sent out four times each year.

If rates notices were emailed, some people might not receive them because of changes to their email address, spam filters or a full inbox, Mr Logie said.

The council would consider adding an electronic option, alongside postal delivery, as part its regular service review, he said.

Dunedin ratepayers are not alone.

The Invercargill City Council, Central Otago District Council and Waitaki District Council do not offer an email service for rates notices, but all are investigating the possibility.

Environment Southland rate notices can be emailed, on request, but a copy would sent by mail as well.

There are already councils in Otago and Southland sending rates bills by email.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council, Otago Regional Council, Southland District Council and the Gore District Council allow ratepayers to request their rates invoices be sent electronically.

Environment Southland director of corporate services Neil Selman said paper-free billing was being investigated as part of its financial system upgrade, which was already under way.


DCC could also be become more ratepayer-friendly by making available rates payment by credit card.

To be able to send accounts via email would require updating the current system, that would cost a lot of money that us rate payers will end up paying for via increased rate bills. Do you still want your account emailed?