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NZ Rates payment upgrade two years away

Property Here - Tuesday, August 13, 2013

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It will be another two years before Auckland Council has a single direct debit system for rates, making life difficult for some ratepayers in the meantime.

A council spokesman says the move to a single rating system is a "nine-legged beast" with the system still running off the eight former councils' computer system with an Auckland Council overlay.

Ratepayers are still on different direct debit systems used by their former councils.

Two ratepayers have contacted the Herald outlining problems with paying their rates by direct debit.

One North Shore ratepayer was upset at having an extra instalment taken out in the last financial year after being told the council was spreading payments over 12, not 11 months. She eventually got a refund.

The second ratepayer, from the former Auckland City district, said his monthly payments had been changed from 10 to 11, taking away a two-month holiday.

There was nothing about the changes on the latest rates invoice, the ratepayer said, and he had trouble getting answers from the council about the dates and amount of payments for this year.

When he asked to escalate the matter as a complaint to the council, he was told it would take up to 10 working days for a response.

"It [direct debit] is a way of smoothing out an increase. The council has done a good job with the transition to a single rates system, but it hasn't communicated the direct debit changes well," the ratepayer said.

The council spokesman acknowledged communication about the direct debit system could have been spelled out more clearly.

"As we move to standardise all payment options across the region, we will ensure more and clearer communication."