Councils should consult ratepayers before raising rates - Hide

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide wants rates capped at the rate of inflation and says councils should seek approval from ratepayers before raising them above that.

"It's a good test for a planned spend-up to get the agreement of those who are paying for it," he said today in a speech to a local government meeting in Napier.

"A council may have a good reason or need to increase rates faster than inflation but should get the consent of ratepayers first."

Mr Hide, who said he would rather have the title Minister for Ratepayers, also advocated greater transparency and accountability in local government.

"Right now, many council processes are murky and confusing," he said.

"I want to change that. Ratepayers want to know who is responsible for council decisions, and who to hold to account."

Mr Hide is also Minister for Regulatory Reform and he said he aimed to cut the red tape that was strangling businesses.

"I want to see fewer of the absurd compliance demands in the regulatory area," he said.

"Businesses are literally being driven into the ground by unnecessary bureaucracy."

He said the Government was making changes to the Resource Management Act and the Building Act, but not all problems lay with legislation.

"Councils have become very risk-averse and over zealous, and need to re-examine their own processes."


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