Gary has been keeping me abreast of developments throughout his campaign to get his rates reduced after Auckland Transport confiscated some of his land for road widening. His reports to me over the phone throughout his battle have been tales of how his attempts to achieve natural justice have been met with obfuscation, delays and lies by Council officials.
These are the tactics officials use to grind down any opposition to their high handed treatment of ratepayers, as anyone who has ever crossed swords with them will know.
Most simply give up. Businesses take all the additional costs imposed by Council on the chin because they can eventually pass them on to their customers. This is one way Council has helped make housing so unaffordable in Auckland. But the humble individual ratepayer usually hasn’t got the time, energy or knowledge needed to defeat the bureaucracy.
It is the credit of Rob Stock that he was prepared to cover the story for the business section of Stuff (Fairfax Media).
A West Auckland man angry his rates had not fallen despite the council having bought part of his land for road widening has scored a $45,000 victory.
Gary Osborne could not understand why despite being left with a smaller plot of land on Te Atatu Road, a ‘back-dated’ valuation claimed the land and value of improvements added up to exactly the same as before.
But on Friday, Osborne won a victory which will see him pay roughly $100 a year less in rates.
His resolve to get a fairer rates deal was hardened when he contacted QV and was told he should have expected a reduced ratings valuation.
A property owner has a right to formally object to a valuation, which is what Osborne did. The objection had to be sent to council, which got a valuer to take a second look.
The result was an estimated land value of $375,000 and improvements of $270,000, adding up to $645,000.
It was a reduction of $45,000, and Osborne had won his fight.
He said he had come to a stage in his life where he had lost trust in authority, and took a closer look at claims made to him.
“I’m 65. I had faith in the system all through my life. I never challenged it. Now I have looked more closely, I have no fail anymore.”
Gary had to bargain with Council to get as much as $45,000. At first they offered him lesser amounts but he stuck to his guns and eventually, accepted their much higher offer of $45,000.
It will require a tough new Mayor to bring a rampant Council bureaucracy under control and restore some credibility to the organisation.