9 Jul 2013

Mayor warns farmers about changing rates system

7:00 am on 9 July 2013

Be careful what you wish for. That was the message a mayor gave Federated Farmers at its annual conference in Ashburton last week, in relation to the federation's long-running complaints about local rates.

The current system calculates rates by property values but the federation argues that property values are not an accurate indicator of an owner's ability to pay.

Selwyn mayor Kelvin Coe said the desire for a new system could backfire on farmers, because "ability to pay" suggests income tax or a tax on profits - and that could lead to farmers paying more in the end.

The federation says the local rating system tries to run a 21st-century society on a 17th-century tax system, and that it is failing everyone - local councils, and their urban and rural citizens.

It says it is time the Government came up with a better solution.