COVID-19 and your rates

Under the government’s COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system), Whanganui District Council made temporary changes to the way some services were able to be accessed.

Some community members have asked why the council charged rates for facilities that could only be physically accessed by people who held a Vaccine Pass.

Rates are a tax based on your property value not on the number of services you use. Council services are funded by general rates on a ‘common good’ basis because they provide a benefit to the whole community whether you use them or not. In keeping with this, the council does not offer rates remissions to people because they chose not to get the COVID-19 vaccination.

Here are some frequently asked questions and our responses

Do I have to pay full rates if I was not able to access services like the library without a Vaccine Pass?

Yes. A ratepayer’s personal choice about vaccination does not negate their responsibility to pay the full amount of rates levied against their property.

Rates are not a direct charge for services, but a property tax which helps to support a wide range of services and amenities for the entire community as well as activities to further community and economic development and enable participation in democracy.

Our services and amenities include drinking water, roads, emergency management, parks, public toilets, libraries and council-owned venues. The cost of providing our services is still the same under restrictions related to the pandemic, including under the government’s current COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system).

How are rates set?

To help fund all of the services provided to the community, councils are required to set rates under the Local Government Rating Act 2002. Once rates have been set at the beginning of the financial year (1 July) the council is responsible for collecting rates from all property owners within its district.

Read more about how rates work

How did the council decide which services would require a Vaccine Pass?

The council followed Ministry of Health guidelines and continually assessed health, safety and well-being related risks. The measures taken were temporary and were implemented while COVID-19 was determined to present a risk to our community and health services.

How can I find out which services and facilities require a Vaccine Pass?

Up-to-date information on council facilities and services under the COVID-Protection Framework (the traffic light system) is available here.

At 11:59pm on Wednesday 13 April 2022, all of New Zealand moved to the Orange setting in our traffic light system. At this setting, council facilities and venues no longer require a Vaccine Pass to be shown on entry.

What will happen if I don’t pay my rates?

Penalties are applied to overdue rates. We encourage ratepayers to pay throughout the year using direct debit payments. Failure to pay rates may result in legal action to recover the outstanding debt.