THROUGH THE PORTAL
A surprise present from Council
Before Christmas we received a surprise present from Council. It was a little bit like one of those surprise presents you get from your kids; where they use your credit card and buy you something they really want. But it’s the thought that counts.
The Council’s present was along those lines, I am forced to pay for it through my rates and its something I didn’t want or need. What they gave me was some bins. The purpose of these bins is supposedly for rubbish disposal but, as I use the red bin people for this service, I didn’t really need any more bins. This present was much like the porcelain unicorn ornament a granddaughter gave me, but it’s the thought that counts. I have stored the bins by the back shed alongside the small unicorn and some other things of no real use and pondered what to do with them, where to put them and so on. After a days solid thinking, I put the unicorn on top of a downstairs guest toilet where grandies could view it when visiting, but I would not have to. The bins offered a larger challenge in my search for usefulness until one morning I had to go into my back shed which was in its usual messy state. Then I had my Damascus moment, I could use the bins as shed tidies! I approached this with gusto, making space for the bins in my garden shed and using them to store appropriate things. The larger bins I used for larger tools and rolls of stuff I didn’t want to throw away and the smaller one was used for storing odd off-cuts of wood that I felt were too precious to throw away. A master stroke, my new bins now served a purpose and were largely out of sight, much like my new unicorn. But you have to wonder why the council decided to give us such a present. The council determined that I would want their bin because I had a house. Basically, because I had a house, I would use a bin, when in fact this is not the case. The logic behind the council rating system is that assets can be used as a method of determining usage and therefore they can then charge for that usage. This logic is flawed. For usage-based charging to be fair, it needs to be based upon actual usage. I have written previously about the retired schoolteacher who is lumbered with very high rates bills because, based upon assets, the council presumes she must be supporting a significant body of people, when in fact she lives alone. Another example of how Council’s thinking on usage charging is not fit for purpose was given to me by a small sports club up north who are having an ongoing battle with the TCDC re the calculation of usage charges. This club doesn’t have a lot of members and has one useable toilet. They have water coming in and waste going out. They are charged $10 per annum for the water coming in and $750 for the waste going out. Really! The first question you must ask is what goes on in that club’s toilet that adds such value to the $10 input? Can this be bottled? Seriously though, the difference in charges seems unreasonable and is probably that way because the TCDC have no flow meters on waste input to their systems, so they levy a standard charge and then claim it is usage based. Usage charges should be usage based and levied uniformly against all rate payers. By this I mean all government departments etc that are exempted from paying rates should still be charged for using our services. If they do not, then it means the costs of these services is unfairly left in the laps of ordinary rate payers. A review of rates is coming up this year. This is your chance to give issues such as this some thought and have your say.