Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Super City rate shock revealed

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

West Auckland and rural ratepayers are the big winners in a new Super City rating system, while residents on the North Shore, in Howick and the old Auckland City face hefty increases.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown yesterday revealed plans for a single Auckland rating system which is generally kind to rural areas and businesses, but stings many households.

Mr Brown is expecting a "very noisy" response from suburbs such as Mt Eden, Mt Albert, Mt Roskill, Remuera and the eastern suburbs where thousands of households can expect an average 14 per cent to 16 per cent rise in rates next year.

Howick and the North Shore will pay increases of about 10 per cent next July.

Mr Brown is proposing a rates remission to cushion the blow for ratepayers whose increases next year are more than $400 or 20 per cent. But thereafter, those ratepayers will pay the full amount.

On the flip side, Waitakere households on average will pay 16 per cent less in rates, Pukekohe households 7.5 per cent less and households in Manurewa and Papakura about 6 per cent less.

In the rural communities of Franklin and Rodney, which strongly opposed becoming part of the Super City, rates will fall by 19 per cent and 16 per cent respectively.

The new system replaces the current medley of eight rating systems, under the councils the Super City replaced.

Rates are affected by several factors, including property valuations, the level of uniform charges, targeted rates, business differentials and some user charges proposed by Mr Brown.

He wants an overall rates increase of 3.5 per cent next year, but new property valuations and the changed system mean individual increases - and decreases - will vary widely from this figure.

Finance officers plan to set up a calculator on the council website so people can find out whether they are better or worse off under the plan.

The new rating system is part of Mr Brown's first long-term plan, a 10-year budget setting out how he will implement the Auckland Plan, which contains his blueprint to make Auckland the "world's most liveable city".

It includes a funding plan for a $2.4 billion city rail link, $123 million for events and marketing the city, but very little in the way of new spending on heritage and environment, prompting councillor Sandra Coney to call it a not too friendly budget for the environment.

Only days after cheering the All Blacks, Mr Brown has indicated there will be no extra money for sports fields in Auckland, despite a rapidly increasing demand, especially for children's facilities.

Mr Brown unveiled his draft long-term plan at yesterday's finance and strategy committee without giving councillors or reporters a chance to read it first.

Councillors adjourned for two workshops yesterday and today with officers to examine it.

Councillor Chris Fletcher tried to have the "secret workshops" open to the public, but Mr Brown and a majority of councillors voted to exclude it.

Said deputy mayor Penny Hulse: "We need to discuss this out of the eye of the media and the public."

Councillor Des Morrison said the financial figures were "pretty fuzzy" and he did not believe the information was sufficient to make good decisions.

Last night, Transport Minister Steven Joyce said plans by Mr Brown to fund 80 per cent of the $2.4 billion city rail loop were "highly unlikely".

GRAPHIC: YOUR RATES - UP OR DOWN?

- NZ Herald

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