Last week, I received my latest rates invoices from the Regional Council and the Hastings District (the latter bill so big I need installments).

The Regional Council tab was about $277. For that, I get — if all goes well — quasi-protected waterways, clean heat and warm homes (and cleaner air), a well-functioning port (actually the port pays us, but that’s another story), pest control, the beginnings of public transportation, flood mitigation, an economic development & tourism agency, some tree planting and erosion control, nine councillors to supervise the operation, and a few other bits thrown in.

Personally, on days when I consider the Regional Council might be serious about protecting the environment, I think that’s a bargain.

I fully realise that assessment will get me in trouble with certain BayBuzz readers. One in particular (whom I won’t identify out of respect for his devoted family!), called me the day he got his HBRC bill to complain vociferously that it was a travesty … even illegal. “My rates are outrageous,” he said. He was particularly upset about paying for public bus service and for Venture Hawke’s Bay. He had already fired off a letter to Rodney Hide.

As it turns out, his bill was almost the same as mine. So I tried to empathize with my erstwhile supporter by saying I’d pay his targeted rate for bus service (a cost I don’t incur, living rurally), if he’d pay my roughly equal charge for pest control (the only pests I have — rabbits — are far from controlled). I figured we could bond over services we paid for but didn’t benefit from. That didn’t placate him.

But finally I managed to deftly side-step these issues (and our disagreement on them) by diverting his attention to our Hastings rates.

“My Hastings rates are almost ten times my HBRC rates … I wish I could say I got ten times the value,” I exclaimed.

“But unfortunately,” I continued, “these days my Hastings rates go to pay for new Council offices, a flash sports park, a faux sewage treatment plant (really a transfer station for channeling poop — magically transformed into sanctified “biomass” by passing over rocks — into the Bay), endless operating losses at Splash Planet, a growing mountain of debt, and fourteen councillors and a mayor. All this while maintenance of community swimming pools, public toilets, and footpaths suffers, and weeds grow at Nelson Park.”

My stratagem worked brilliantly! Immediately my caller shifted gears, venting even more passionately about the Hastings Council, its mis-adventures and mis-spending. By comparison to his volcanic blast at the HDC, his gripe against the Regional Council was a forgotten firecracker.

And once again we were on the same side, fences mended.

Tom Belford

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1 Comment

  1. If I am to clear my rates HBRC plus HDC to the 30/6/10
    I will have given these thieves 21,111.57 dollars; does this sound like democracy; the only difference I see between the Councils and the Mafia is that they can leaglise the theft!

    How can this be justified, it cant!

    One trip into town a week 60km, there and back 405.99 dollars to use the road per week! not to mention the petrol tax I am paying!

    For all practical purposes I get no rubbish collection. no footpaths not sewerage; I have to have my own wells and pump my own water! really I get no services or none that I want or need!

    After all this I have to pay to got to the local dump if I want to dump rubbish myself!

    This is the one undelying reason why the productive sector in NZ is being strangled to death by local government!

    A fairer rating system must be devised based on productive capacity of that property; in the case of farms stock units are a good starting point.

    At the moment alot of land is being rated at a higher level than the net return on that property………….if something isn’t done we will destroy our productive land to housing(which is already happening) and other uses and in time we will not be able to feed our people!

    In other words the council is taking all the farmers income this cannot be morally right in any situation it makes serfdom look fantastic!

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