The Rotorua Lakes Council is being called on to drop its plan for “ground-truthing” workshops at the start of meetings of the key strategic planning and finance committee.
The call comes in a document from the Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers group, which is locked in a to death battle with the current RLC administration over the direction the city is taken under its current leadership.
The group released a 36-page report on council rates yesterday (15 August) detailing 14 policy and practice issues that it says are limiting the rights of the public and will financially cripple many ratepayers.
RDRR says it has compiled and shared its report publicly as a result of the council’s limits on discussion and critiques of its current rate increases.
The report singles out a meeting of the council committee on 9 August, which it said was the last item in a five-hour meeting.
“Ratepayers expecting public hearings where they could write to and speak openly to their elected representatives about this property tax, it’s fairness and efficiency, and how well rates are used, were disappointed,” the report says. The report notes that it was proposed that the next three meetings start with “ground-truthing” workshops to clarify the principles of the rates system.
The group raised concerns that it was proposed “ground-truthing” sessions would be run by officials with groups of stakeholders the officials selected.
“The RDRR takes the view that this process is neither democratic nor likely to respond to ratepayers’ concerns. So-called ‘ground-truthing’ is jargon for narrative control’."
The initial discovery phase is intended to build on a level of understanding within Council on the potential issues / concerns within the rating framework. The proposed focus groups are intended to ensure all perspectives of ‘fairness’ are identified to support initial councillor/member workshops.
Strategy Policy & Finance Committee agenda for the meeting outlined focus groups as follows below. "Older persons" those among the most threatened by rates hike, are the last on the last line of the list.
"Specifically, focus groups will be intended to ensure coverage for:
Te Arawa / Maori – iwi entities, marae and multiply owned Maori land
Rural residents – villages, lifestyle, farming and agribusiness
Lakes residents – villages, lifestyle, farming
Business – industrial, commercial, CBD, accommodation
General – renters, ratepayers and older persons."
The Mud asked the council for comment.
Click here to find a full copy of the RDRR review of the council’s new rates and their impact on ratepayers and the Listen to the meeting at: