Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Mayor's cake joke no help with rates wrath

Auckland Mayor Len Brown. Photo / Natalie Slade
Auckland Mayor Len Brown. Photo / Natalie Slade

Auckland Mayor Len Brown avoided a lamington attack at a public meeting last night but copped a verbal lashing over the city's new rating system.

Mr Brown opened an address to more than 250 ratepayers at Botany Downs College by joking about an attack at Auckland University on Friday where an angry supporter of 292 sacked wharf workers smeared pieces of pink sponge on his face and shirt.

He expressed a liking for chocolate lamingtons, but not pink ones.

"This makes a hell of a change from talking about ports," said Mr Brown, who has faced criticism over the past few days from his traditional supporters on the left over the dispute.

Last night, it was the turn of residents in the right-leaning ward of Howick to criticise Mr Brown's proposed rating system, in particular a proposed uniform charge of $350.

"Under your proposal we are being asked to pay ridiculous rates," said Cockle Bay Ratepayers and Residents Association secretary Maureen Forrester to loud applause.

The meeting passed a resolution to increase the uniform charge to the $750 maximum allowable and cap rates at the rate of inflation or 3 per cent.

Mr Brown, who faces a huge challenge this year with merging the different rating systems of the eight former councils into a single rating system, acknowledged from the sentiment in the room that "we are not there" when it came to finding a solution.

The Howick ward and suburbs such as Mt Eden, Mt Roskill, Remuera and the eastern suburbs are particularly hard hit by the proposed rating system, while rates for many West Auckland, Manurewa and Papakura residential ratepayers will fall.

To help households facing big rates rises, most councillors have backed Mr Brown's plan to take money off ratepayers getting big decreases and use it to limit hefty rises to 10 per cent.

Council figures show 37,993 Howick households face a rates rise of up to 10 per cent in July. Only 1161 of the 40,315 households will get a rates decrease.

If the uniform charge was raised to $750, the mayor said, an extra 43,000 ratepayers would face rises of more than 10 per cent.

Tonight Orakei residents can discuss the rates plan at a public meeting at the Orakei Bay conference centre, 231 Orakei Rd, at 7.30pm.

- NZ Herald

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