Expatica news

Watchdog barks at rising municipal costs

16 March 2004

AMSTERDAM — Municipal rates and taxes will rise on average 7.1 percent this year as councils, provinces and water authorities collect EUR 9.8 billion in payments from companies and private citizens, statistics bureau CBS said on Tuesday.

Unions and employer groups have previously criticised that sharp rises in local costs. Having agreed to a wage freeze late last year, both groups have claimed the government should restrict increases in local costs to about zero percent.

Municipal rates and taxes will amount to EUR 7 billion in 2003, while provinces and water authorities will charge companies and consumers EUR 1 and 1.9 billion respectively, news agency ANP reported.

The CBS said the revenue from provincial taxes will increase the most, rising by 11.5 percent. This is due primarily to higher provincial motor vehicle taxes. Provinces fear that spending on roads and public transport will increase strongly this year.

Water authority charges are rising by 6.9 percent — the sharpest increase in almost 10 years — to battle higher water management costs related to, for example, dikes protecting reclaimed land and extra dredging works.

Municipal charges will rise by 6.25 percent, which is comparable to previous years. The CBS also said the increase in the OZB real estate tax is similar to recent years.

Consumer watchdog Consumentenbond reacted with displeasure to the higher charges and urged again for the introduction of a measuring system, in which municipalities are required to demonstrate to residents what their taxes are spent on. 

Previous research by the watchdog found that a large percentage of the population believes it does not get value for its municipal taxes, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.

It also said the increase in municipal charges has been enormous in recent years, much more than inflation and consumers must receive something in return.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news