Rates error to be squared up next year

The Otago Regional Council will apologise for overcharging some ratepayers after a mistake in the rates demand in East Taieri.

Council corporate services general manager Nick Donnelly said for most affected ratepayers the amount they were overcharged would have been insignificant.

But for 60 rates assessments, where the overcharge was more than $100, a letter would be sent to ratepayers explaining what happened.

The letter would alert them of the plan to make the matter right next year, Mr Donnelly said.

"Unfortunately ... there was a mistake in the calculation of the rates per hectare for the East Taieri drainage scheme," he said.

When the council set rates, it took a series of snapshots of the rating database at three points in time as the process progressed.

During that time a property was amalgamated into another and some land had been dropped out of the calculations, Mr Donnelly said.

The rate take total remained the same but the council divided it by a lesser amount of land, he said.

Ultimately, there were 2730 rates assessments affected, and the council overcharged $33,000.

Of the nearly half (1233) of those that had been overcharged, they were overcharged on average $31.20.

In about 500 assessments there was an overcharge of $2.35.

In about 1500 assessments there was an undercharge of $3.65.

For larger properties there were multiple assessments for each rating classification on the property.

And so the number of assessments did not match the number of ratepayers, he said.

Instead of reissuing an assessment this year, next year’s rates would be adjusted so that the rate per hectare would be lower than forecast, Mr Donnelly said.

Cr Kate Wilson said when the mistake resulted in an up to $4000 overcharge something "should be discussed".

Cr Michael Deaker said he was comfortable with the plan "as long as we acknowledge that we stuffed up".

Mr Donnelly said the letter to affected ratepayers would include an apology.

"We’d be pointing out that we got their calculation wrong and they’ve been overcharged and how we proposed to fix it," he said.

 

Comments

Why do the victims have to wait a year? Any other business would have to fix their mistakes. More examples of pure arrogance from ORC (as if we need any)

What about the interest on the amount and the late reimbursement charge?
Or just pay them back now.

Maybe the ratepayers can make an error in their payments and advise the ORC that they will square it up next year. I hope they are applying penalty interest to their oversight like they do to ratepayers who are slow to pay. Disgusting arrogance and this should have been sorted by the CEO in the very first instance. Am horrified at how this Council treats the community. Natural justice is a phrase this Council knows nothing off. Shame on you ORC

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