No rates freeze — services vital
by Andy Bryenton
The Kaipara District Council has as yet ruled out a rates freeze for homeowners in the district who have been adversely affected by Covid-19 and the government’s restrictions on business to quell the deadly virus.
As their spokesperson explains, this is because vital services need to keep operating, and national government-level measures should ensure that the vast majority of citizens will still receive income.
Ben Hope stresses that assistance on a case by case basis is still very much on the cards for those who find themselves without recourse to the government’s massive multibillion-dollar wage subsidy package or mortgage holidays offered by banks. Some criticism has been levelled at the ‘mortgage holiday’ measures agreed to with retail banks, as they will still add interest during the Covid-19 crisis.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson says that it is still a significant step, and will avoid foreclosures, the worst-case scenario.
“It is principal and interest so that also will mean a significant bill, but I’m very pleased the banks have stepped up for this and taken that pressure off homeowners who are worried about losing their homes for the next few months.”
When quizzed on a rates freeze, a measure posited by some overseas nations in response to the economic fallout of C-19, the KDC was pragmatic about the necessity to keep the region’s utilities functioning.
“We are considering how we can help people through a period of hardship to find the right balance between continuing to contribute to the Kaipara economy, with our projects and employment, and easing the burden of rates on our community.
“We will take a measured approach to our decisions, assessing how things develop before charting a course that is right for our district and our community. What we do know is that our essential services need to continue and that’s what rates pay for. Water and wastewater services, roading, our parks, our cemetery, our planning services and most importantly our emergency services, we used to call it Civil Defence, are all essential.”