Monday, December 4, 2023

Hamilton backs bid to lift income threshold for rates rebate

Hamilton City Council is throwing its support behind efforts to increase the number of homeowners who can receive a Government-funded discount on their rates.

Councillors last week voted to endorse a proposal from Horowhenua District Council which would see the income threshold for accessing the Government rates rebate lifted and the process to apply made easier.

The proposal (known as a remit) is one of 11 put forward by local authorities nationwide to be considered by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ), which will then advocate on behalf of the councils with central government.

Currently, residential ratepayers on low incomes may be eligible for a rates rebate of up to $750 a year under the Government’s scheme. The income threshold to receive some or all of the rebate is $30,100.

As well as raising the upper limit of the band, the proposal seeks to simplify the process to receive a rebate by giving Council access to data to proactively identify households who qualify.

“With skyrocketing living expenses, we know many Hamiltonians are doing it tough right now,” said Hamilton Mayor, Paula Southgate.

“As it’s Council’s purpose to improve the wellbeing of our community, I am helping promote rebate opportunities for our city’s ratepayers on low incomes to access additional financial support to ensure they can meet their daily expenses.

“I am proud to advocate for our city, and back this proposal to make it simpler and easier for people to get a little extra support when they need it most.”

As well as administering the Government rebate on behalf of the Department of Internal Affairs, Council is one of a small number of territorial authorities to also offers its own rebate, which can save residential ratepayers up to a further $676.

In 2022/23, the Council rebate put $233,000 back in the pockets of low-income ratepayers.

Council has also opted to support these proposals:

  • changes to the allocation of risk and liability in the building sector
  • increased roading/transport maintenance funding
  • more accessible local government elections
  • co-chair arrangements at formal meetings
  • the ability for councils to determine parking infringement penalties
  • increased investment in rural and regional public transport
  • the establishment of a local government resolution service
  • support with timeframes for earthquake-prone building policies
  • KiwiSaver contributions for local government elected members
  • a reduction in Audit NZ fees. 

Respective councils’ positions on each of the remits will be voiced at LGNZ’s annual meeting in late July.

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