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Source: Taxpayers Union

Christchurch City Council’s backdown over a rates freeze is a betrayal of ratepayers, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “The three rate hike options put in front of councillors – 3.5 percent, 4.65 percent, and 5.5 percent – are frankly offensive. An economic crisis is the worst possible time to increase taxes – especially rates, which apply regardless of a household’s actual ability to pay.” “It is especially galling that councillors were swayed by self-interested staff warning of redundancies. The Council’s primary responsibility is to the ratepayers who fund it, not internal staff. Countless ratepayers have lost their livelihoods in the wake of COVID-19. Why should council employees be a protected class?” “Mayor Lianne Dalziel previously claimed she was “laser-focused” on scrapping the rate hike. This would have required some tough but necessary cuts to salaries and non-essential spending. And yet now Dalziel is pushing a budget that includes a massive $118 million discretionary spend on a sports centre. It’s like she’s decided the reality of this crisis is too hard to deal with, and has returned to a dreamworld in which COVID-19 never happened.””For too long Councillors have deferred to the preferences of officials. COVID-19 requires Councillors to reassert the democratic mandate, take back control, and force on officials the need to cut their cloth to fit and not put up council taxes.” The Taxpayers’ Union will be encouraging Christchurch ratepayers to submit in favour of a zero rate increase during the consultation period, regardless of the council’s proposed rate figure.