Auckland Council abandons Rodney legacy rates relief

Posted at 11:22am Monday 03 May, 2021

A number of community and sports groups are set to lose long-running discounts on their rates bills due to Auckland Council ending a relief grants scheme that was carried over from the days of Rodney District Council.

Council's lead financial advisor Mark Purdie told last month's Rodney Local Board meeting that all the groups had been advised in 2018 that the grants would be ending in three years' time, and the cut-off date would be June 30.

Around $93,000 was paid to 31 organisations across Rodney in the 2020/21 financial year, each of which received between five and 100 per cent off their rates, money which Mr Purdie said could be reallocated to other local board projects if members voted to let the grants end.

Members agreed that funding rates for private property or commercial activities was not a good use of ratepayer money, and that members in each subdivision should decide which groups should continue to receive rates grants. Additionally, any money saved from discontinuing rates grants would be allocated to that same subdivision – around $14,800 in Warkworth and $1125 in Wellsford, based on last year's rates bills.

One of the biggest losers will be Springboard Community Works at Snells Beach, which last year got 87 per cent of its $5175 rates bill paid by Council.

Warkworth member Steven Garner said after the meeting that removing Springboard's grant had been the most difficult one to reconcile, as he was very aware of how good a service the organisation provided.

“They do an outstanding job in a difficult sphere.  However, continuing to fund this in this manner would leave the Local Board, justifiably, open to criticism from many of the other organisations in our area,” he said.

Deputy board chair Beth Houlbrooke said the decision had nothing to do with the organisation's status or deservedness.

“Our role is to deliver on our Local Board Plan objectives and funding rates for private property is not one of them,” she said. “We chose to continue to support the Matakana Hall and Kaipara Flats library because these are a clear fit with our Local Board Plan outcomes. We already financially support volunteer libraries and community halls elsewhere, so this gives them an equal footing.”

She added that she made a regular monthly donation to Springboard.

“If members of the public want to see them supported then I suggest they do the same,” Ms Houlbrooke said.

Groups keeping grants:

Kaipara Flats public library (100 per cent); Matakana Hall (100 per cent); Pakiri Sports & Recreation Trust (100 per cent); Port Albert Hall (100 per cent); Wellsford Plunket (87 per cent); Tomarata Rugby Football Club (43 per cent); Tomarata Domain (100 per cent); Tomarata Hall (100 per cent)

Groups losing grants:

Vipassana Meditation, Makarau (5 per cent); Arapohue Bush Camp Trust (43 per cent); Bowls Warkworth (43 per cent); Point Wells Bowling Club (50 per cent); Rodney Freemasons (50 per cent); Springboard Property Trust (87 per cent); Warkworth Golf Club (26 per cent); and Wellsford Golf & Squash Club (26 per cent)


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