KIN’s Horowhenua correspondent Veronica Harrod says a number of Foxton Beach property owners were not charged waste water rates by Horowhenua District Council.
She says it was for ‘an unspecified amount of time,’ saving these ratepayers $538.00 annually.
Council used $1.39 million from the Foxton Beach Freeholding Account to sub-divide the Forbes Rd subdivision a few years ago. The Foxton Beach Freeholding Account was set aside for the benefit of Foxton Beach residents by a Local Government Commissioner after council’s amalgamated in 1989.
Ratepayer’s allegations to Council
In a verbal submission on the council’s first 20 year Long Term Plan Christina Paton of Foxton Beach alleged up to 160 properties of the Forbes Road sub-division were affected, but council says only 17 properties were not charged prior to the 2015-16 rating year.
Mrs Paton asked, “What was the actual loss in rating income and how was that recovered?
‘Given that the error was discovered by a real estate agent and not by HDC staff, it is reasonable to assume the error could have been perpetuated and may be occurring in other areas in this district. This does not assure me that either internal or external auditing is adequate and/or appropriately professional in its application.”
A council spokesperson said the council could not provide any details on how long the $538 waste water rate wasn’t charged because there were variations between when owners of the new houses started paying rates which meant, ‘a search of building consents would be required to determine the period for each property.’
“A copy of a Harcourt’s real estate advertisement for a Forbes Road property stated rates were $1234.58 when in actual fact they were $1818.30, as a copy of a 2014-2015 rating assessment for a Forbes Road property shows.”
Council says ‘no money lost.’
Despite the disparity the council spokesperson said, “No money was lost, as the cost of sewer to these properties was adequately covered by rates paid on other properties that were connected at the time.”
Furthermore, the spokesperson says, Council could not retrospectively collected the sewer disposal district rate because, “it is not legislatively possible to rate for retrospective costs, and there was no lost income.”
In relation to an allegation that rates remission on waste water rates was offered to purchasers of Forbes Road as an incentive during the sale process council spokesperson said, “There is no truth to this suggestion. It was an error which was rectified promptly once detected.”