The Weekend Sun Column - 2nd September 2016
JOHN ROBSON on Tauranga City Council...
If you don't know where you are, any debate about where you are going is pointless.
In Tauranga, thanks to the inadequacies of Councillors, debate is frequently pointless, because they (and, consequently, the public) are poorly informed regarding the finances of both the Council and the City.
Take the current debate over the city's amenities, or lack thereof.
It is often asserted by certain business people that the city is being held back in terms of'amenity'because residential rates are low.
Privately, they tell Councillors that they should put the rates up, and publicly they berate Councillors for not having vision, i.e. not having the 'courage' to put rates up.
Well, let me give you five numbers these vocal business people probably don't know - because if they did know, it would make them hypocrites.
In Tauranga, residential ratepayers pay over 80% of the rates, while nonresidential ratepayers pay less than 20% of the rates.
If we average the same numbers for Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, their residential ratepayers pay less than 70% of the rates, while their non-residential ratepayers pay over 30% of the rates.
In short - compared with residential ratepayers in the other big cities, residential ratepayers in Tauranga pay more than their share.
And non-residential ratepayers are shortchanging the city.
By how much, you ask?
Conservatively, I estimate, by at least $10,000,000 every year.
The time has come to ask the nonresidential ratepayers to pay their share.
And, to be fair, some business people I've spoken to privately have said they are willing to make a larger contribution.
Real change starts with knowing the facts.
Next week - more facts.