Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Minister eyes 10 per cent cap on Super City rates rises

Local Government Minister Dr Nick Smith. Photo / NZPA
Local Government Minister Dr Nick Smith. Photo / NZPA

Local Government Minister Dr Nick Smith is considering a law change to cap Super City rates increases at no more than 10 per cent this year.

Households in National electorates, such as Epsom, Auckland Central, Tamaki, North Shore, Northcote and East Coast Bays face some of the biggest increases from the Government-imposed directive for a single rating system for the Super City.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has written to Dr Smith asking for help to smooth the changes so no ratepayers get an increase or decrease greater than 10 per cent in July.

Mr Brown is proposing an overall rates increase of 3.6 per cent, but merging the rating systems of the eight former councils into a single system means many households will receive bigger increases and others will receive big decreases.

Yesterday, Dr Smith said the Government was open-minded about providing flexibility for the council to be able to make the transition to a single rating system, but he also believed the Auckland Council had ample tools within the current law to cap increases at 10 per cent.

"The legislation lets them use uniform annual general charges, targeted rates as well as rates rebates, and there is ample flexibility to avoid having large numbers of households facing significant rates increases," said Dr Smith.

It was up to the council to decide what was fair for Auckland.

The minister said the advice from officials was that if the council chose a higher uniform charge than the $350 figure being proposed, there would be smaller rates reductions in the lower-value areas and significantly lower increases in the higher-value areas.

"I'm sympathetic to providing ... flexibility to the Auckland Council on how it strikes its rate across the city, but it should be open with its community that the existing tools would enable them to spread the rating burden in a different way that would not result in the rate increases for some communities.

"I would hope to be in a position to give the council a good steer within a month," he said.

A council spokesman said figures had been provided to the Department of Internal Affairs showing a higher uniform charge would lead to more households facing 10 per cent-plus rates increases.

- NZ Herald

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