Central suburbs feeling pain of single system as mayor tries to cut cost
The Super City has been costly for residents of the former Auckland City Council who have been hammered by a new single rating system designed to put everyone on the same footing.
Figures compiled by the Herald show residents of Mt Albert, Mt Eden, Mt Roskill and the wealthy eastern suburbs have seen household rates rise by an average of 20 per cent or more over the past three years.
Many residents in these suburbs are among the 57,000 ratepayers who have faced the maximum annual increase of 10 per cent a year over a three-year transition to a single rating system. They include people like Angela Salter and her husband, Geoff Andrew, whose cumulative rates increase of 33 per cent has them struggling to find $580 every three months on their modest home in Mt Roskill.
On the flipside, residents in West Auckland, Papakura and Rodney have seen their rates fall over the same three-year period, down between 0.2 per cent in Rodney to 7.2 per cent in Henderson- Massey. Under their former councils, residents in these areas paid high rates relative to the value of their properties.
The reasons for lower rates are twofold. The move to a rating system based on capital (land plus housing) value has resulted in property values reducing relative to other areas. They have also benefited from a lower uniform annual charge.
Other suburbs hit with increases larger than the 9 per cent city average over the past three years include Royal Oak, Onehunga, Howick, Devonport, Takapuna, the East Coast Bays and Waiheke Island.
Suburbs with increases less than 9 per cent average include Manurewa, Avondale, Mangere, Otahuhu, Otara, Papatoetoe, Pukekohe and Great Barrier Island.
The figures highlight the winners and losers from the move to a single rating system for the Super City.
The rocky ride continues today when Mayor Len Brown unveils the first draft of a new 10-year budget containing cuts of hundreds of millions of dollars a year in running costs and capital investment in order to contain rates.
Vanessa Neeson, who chairs the Henderson-Massey Local Board, said residents of the former Waitakere City Council area were paying high rates because, unlike Auckland City, theirs was a smaller city with a small business rating base.
"Where I live here in Hobsonville, our property was about a quarter of the value of [a property in] Paritai Drive [in Orakei] but we paid the same rates," she said.
Mrs Neeson said West Aucklanders were still paying $14 million too much in rates. That was because not all ratepayers have moved to their new rates at the end of the three-year transition period that capped annual increases at 10 per cent and phased in decreases of up to 5.6 per cent.
The number of residential ratepayers still facing hefty rises runs into the thousands, some of whose rates will rise by more than 30 per cent before a single, regionwide rating system is fully in place.
Orakei councillor Cameron Brewer said ratepayers in wards such as his had been patient but that patience was running out.
"The best [way] to ensure greater fairness is to introduce a higher uniform annual charge. A higher fixed component of rates would better reflect the fact that every Aucklander has equal access to council's amenities, infrastructure, and services regardless of their property value."
Mr Brown said the council would be considering the rating policy in October, including the uniform annual charge.