Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Rocketing rates alarm Auckland beachfront residents

Mike Sadler (front) and fellow Manly Esplanade residents are upset over the rates they're being changed for their Browns Bay homes.  Photo / Steven McNicholl
Mike Sadler (front) and fellow Manly Esplanade residents are upset over the rates they're being changed for their Browns Bay homes. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Residents of a beachfront esplanade in Browns Bay are not happy with their new rates bills, their new water bills and the "socialist" council of Mayor Len Brown.

The arrival of rates and water bills has created confusion for the three groups of neighbours in Manly Esplanade - each hit with higher rates bills and paying directly for wastewater for the first time.

Real estate agent Mike Sadler feels aggrieved that Mr Brown promised no one would receive more than a 10 per cent increase in rates, yet his combined rates and water bills will rise about 20 per cent.

"I feel as if the council is not being honest with me," says Mr Sadler, whose rates are rising from $3000 to about $4000 in 10 per cent sums each year with higher water bills on top.

"If you are going to say rates will rise by only 10 per cent, that should be it, 10 per cent," Mr Sadler said.

The Auckland Council is reviewing 5000 rates bills after an outcry by homeowners who were denied the benefit of a 10 per cent transition cap for making home improvements.

Council figures show North Shore households will pay an average rates increase of 4.5 per cent this year and a 17.6 per cent increase in wastewater charges. When rates and wastewater charges are combined the average increase is 6.9 per cent.

But in areas like Manly Esplanade, where capital valuations vary from about $900,000 to $2 million, the increases are greater.

Retired businessman Neil Hemmingsen is seeing the rates on his $2,050,000 home rise about 50 per cent, from $4300 to $6400.

He accepts an increase in rates is only fair and reasonable, but strongly objects to the uniform charge of $350 that was set by Mayor Brown and left-leaning councillors to support low-income households.

Mr Hemmingsen would have preferred a higher uniform charge - the maximum allowable was $750 - to ensure all ratepayers contributed a more even share for council services instead of high-value property owners like himself paying more.

"It's a totally socialist mentality the way rates have been calculated," he said.

Glen Hodder and his wife, Jo, who own a health supplements business in Albany, object to paying more and using fewer council services than a large household.

They are philosophically opposed to the method of calculating rates based on the capital value of a property.

A discussion on rates invariably turns to the performance of the council for the neighbours, who do not think North Shore has fared well under the Super City.

Mrs Hodder likens the situation to Europe, where wealthy countries are having to bail out countries like Greece and Spain.

Mr Hodder said the council should be paying down debt, not increasing it threefold over 10 years to $8.7 billion, as the world economy passes through uncharted waters.

Mr Hemmingsen said the council should stick to the basics - roading, water, rubbish and community events - and not get involved in frivolous expenditure, like spending $10.6 million to bring the V8 Supercars to Pukekohe and $100,000 on an artwork at the Oteha Valley Rd park and ride station.

"For what?" he said. "It looks like a pizza oven."

- NZ Herald

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