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Source: Taxpayers Union

This year, local councils across New Zealand made a big show this year of rejigging their annual plans in response to COVID-19, but new data confirms most failed to take necessary measures to avoid increasing costs on struggling households.Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “The Taxpayers’ Union lobbied all councils to pursue measures that would allow them to freeze rates. We were pleased to see 14 of New Zealand’s 78 local and regional councils achieve this.”“However, most councils forged ahead with rate hikes far beyond the rate of inflation. Inflation for the year to September was 1.4%, but according to Stats NZ, the cost of local authority rates and payments increased by 3.1%.”“Unlike the private sector, which lost business during the COVID-19 lockdown, local councils have the power to keep squeezing their constituents for more revenue. This power has insulated council bosses from the harsh realities facing ratepayers. As a result, councils have barely tinkered with their business-as-usual salary hikes and have pressed ahead with non-essential spending projects.”“The economic pain of COVID-19 will extend far into next year. If councils fail to plan for rates relief in their 2021 annual plans, they should expect a ratepayer revolt.”