Boundary line shifts rates 40%

Ward boundary changes within Central Otago have bumped up rates by between 40 per cent and 60 per cent for the owners of some properties near Alexandra.

A total of 340 ratepayers are affected by the boundary changes and one of them, Russell Anderson, called a public meeting in Alexandra on Tuesday night, attended by about 80 people.

Mr Anderson received a letter on April 15 from Central Otago District Council, informing him that as he was now in the Alexandra ward, his rates would include a share of the funding for Molyneux Park and stadium, Molyneux Aquatic Centre and other recreational and cultural facilities in the town.

The Local Government Commission decided last year that the district should be divided into five wards - Cromwell, Earnscleugh-Manuherikia, Alexandra, Maniototo and Roxburgh.

The council had said its preference was for the status quo - six separate wards and five community boards.

Following an appeal by two people, the commission decided the council's rating policy was unfair to the residents of the Alexandra ward who subsidised services used by residents of Earnscleugh and Manuherikia.

It decided the ward boundaries should be altered so some properties on the outskirts of Alexandra, previously in the Earnscleugh ward, were included in the Alexandra ward.

It also decided to merge two community boards and created the Vincent Community Board.

Mr Anderson said the commission's decision had a drastic impact on the rates of those ‘‘relocated'' into the Alexandra ward.

‘‘How can it be possible that one side of a road is levied at one rate and their neighbours on the other side are not?'' Mr Anderson said.

Central Otago District councillor Tony Lepper attended the meeting as the representative for the Earnscleugh ward, rather than as a council representative, he said.

Earnscleugh ‘‘lost '' 340 ratepayers as a result of the boundary changes.

‘‘You're no longer part of my constituency and it's no good gnashing your teeth,'' Mr Lepper said.
‘‘We want to get a result that's fair and equitable.''

Alexandra residents had long wanted to extend the Alexandra ward boundaries to include those properties on the outskirts of the town. ‘‘Dragging in'' more ratepayers would help pay for the town's facilities, he said.

The council held a rating review every three years.
‘‘What's likely to happen at that time is that Earnscleugh ward ratepayers will be included in the catchment area for Alexandra too and maybe a circle will be drawn around the town extending 15km.

‘‘Within that circle you'll pay for facilities like the swimming pool.''

He suggested the new Alexandra ward members seek a transitional rate this year, a ‘‘guesstimate'' of what their rates would be if Earnscleugh ward residents were also asked to contribute.

- Submissions to the draft annual plan closed yesterday.

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