Two candidates for the Levin Ward in Horowhenua, standing on a platform of change, believe rates business differentials that favour retirement and lifestyle villages in Horowhenua need to be canned.
The revelation by Levin Ward candidate Christine Moriarty that retirement and lifestyle villages receive “approximately 25 percent” off their rates bill was made in response to a Council press release that stated, “retirement and lifestyle villages are among the region’s biggest ratepayers.”
Ms Moriarty said if Compassion Housing is only paying $113,418 for rates this equates to, “approximately 44 of their 115 houses. That seems to be quite a sweetheart deal.”
Moriarty says sitting Crs must go
“We cannot solve our problems if the same councillors are voted back in,” she said.
According to another Council press release published on 14 June, 2017, Compassion Housing already receives a rates remission of 50 percent.
Former council units sold despite local objections
The formerly Council owned pensioner housing portfolio was sold in 2017, at a $1.86 million book loss, to high profile property management company Willis Bond and the Sisters of Compassion — despite overwhelming resident opposition to the sale.
Fellow Levin Ward candidate Paul King said business differentials were introduced as a tool by the Council, “to encourage retirement homes/village businesses to set up in the Horowhenua.”
“There is no justification to keep business differentials, and that is why we need a new council,” he said.
He also questioned whether lifestyle and retirement villages referred to by chief executive David Clapperton as the “biggest ratepayers” were, in fact, paying their fair share.
“With large development demand in the Horowhenua, do we need to keep providing incentives, and yes this does include the cancellation of development contributions,” Mr King said.
Development contributions are a hot political topic with many residents up in arms over councillor’s voting to cancel contributions collected from land and property developers between 2006 and 2015.
Deputy Mayor’s development interests
One of the retirement and lifestyle villages referred to as one of the “biggest ratepayers” is the 500 house Speldhurst Lifestyle Estate on Maori leasehold land being developed in stages by deputy mayor Wayne Bishop’s land and property development company Wayne Bishop Investments Limited.
Cr Bishop is standing as a candidate in the Waiopehu Ward for a fourth term.
Development contributions were cancelled three months after the Wayne Bishop Investments Ltd resource consent application for Speldhurst was submitted to the Council in March 2015.
In November 2018 councillors voted in favour of retaining the decision to cancel development contributions.
Mayor Michael Feyen was absent from the November 2018 meeting.