Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief's desperate attempt to stop 'unfair, badly timed' proposal

Michael Barnett. Photo / Andrew Warner
Michael Barnett. Photo / Andrew Warner

The Auckland Chamber of Commerce is urging council to vote against an "unfair, ad hoc and badly timed" proposal which would see businesses paying double towards a transport levy to give residents some relief.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett has made a desperate attempt to stop the move which he had labelled as purely political. He claimed the council is punishing businesses in order to collect votes from residents.

The chamber has written to the mayor and all councillors asking them to reconsider the proposal prior to making decisions on the annual plan on Friday. The public consultation period ended on 24 March 2016.

The three-year levy was introduced last year to fund an extra $186 million towards transport initiatives and in the first year saw residential rate payers footing $114 of the bill and business ratepayers paying $187.

But in the 2016/17 draft annual plan the council is proposing reducing the amount residents pay by 21 per cent to $90, while increasing what businesses pay by 54 per cent to $407 or be rated based on capital value.

The chamber said under the capital value proposal, a small to medium business would go from paying $187 to $3000, while a business with property valued at $184 million would pay $55,000 regardless of whether it operated commercial vehicles and therefore even benefits from the new transport improvements.

Mr Barnett said going ahead with the proposal would "reinforce a view that council is not fit for purpose".

"The option of of a levy against business ratepayers based on property values is outrageous and lacking in logic... Just making the proposal is a giant leap backwards for a city and council that wants to attract business investment, employment and build a positive working relationship with the business community."

- NZ Herald

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