Waitomo and Otorohanga district councils are taking proactive steps to help local residents pay their overdue rates bills. At the end of 2014, WDC was owed $3.8m and ODC $717,912.
In Waitomo, $1.1m of the outstanding amount was for late penalties, while in Otorohanga the penalty total came to $261,110. Rates are collected by district councils to pay for several services including maintenance to parks and reserves, rubbish collection and road repairs.
Waitomo mayor Brian Hanna says while arrears are high, the district does face a unique challenge when compared to city councils in that $1.3m (34%) of the $3.8m is attributed to Maori Freehold Land (MFL).
“This is not a race issue, but the thing for council is that we have a huge number of small holdings that are multiply-owned and are effectively unproductive. “The outstanding amount is significant, but it is no worse than it has probably always been.”