Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Auckland mayoral candidate wants to give ratepayers the choice

The Orakei Local Board member and centre-right candidate said he would find $35 million in savings to freeze rates in his first budget. Photo / Supplied
The Orakei Local Board member and centre-right candidate said he would find $35 million in savings to freeze rates in his first budget. Photo / Supplied

Auckland mayoral candidate Mark Thomas says he will give ratepayers a choice to freeze rates or a rates increase of about 2 per cent or 4 per cent to pay for projects in their area.

"My approach will tie any rates increase Aucklanders approve more clearly to specific local projects. This is a version of the targeted rate mechanism council already uses," Mr Thomas said today.

The Orakei Local Board member and centre-right candidate said he would find $35 million in savings to freeze rates in his first budget, mostly from savings in the $422 million governance budget, but also savings in community services and economic and cultural development budgets.

He said people in the north, west, centre, east, south and rural areas would vote to endorse growth tied to their area, or the option of a rates freeze.

"I will argue that Aucklanders support growth, but will provide a $35 million council savings "dividend" in year one to encourage them to do this," Mr Thomas said.

Other "affordability and growth" policies promised by Mr Thomas include:

• Increasing the uniform annual general charge (UAGC) from about $385 to $450.
• To help low income households impacted by a higher UAGC put more resources into the rates rebate.
• Rewrite the Auckland Plan to focus more on core business.
• Merge the events and tourism parts of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) into Regional Facilities Auckland.
• Work with private sector to establish a new economic development agency integrated into Development Auckland.
• Give Aucklanders the option to sell 12 per cent of the council's 22 per cent shareholding in Auckland Airport for new assets, such as the Pakuranga-Panmure busway.
• Give Aucklanders the option to keep Ports of Auckland land but sell the operating business for new assets.

Mr Thomas is one of three centre-right candidates contesting the mayoralty. The others are businesswoman Vic Crone and businessman John Palino.The other candidates are Labour MP Phil Goff, right-winger Stephen Berry, activist Penny Bright, former Green Party candidate David Hay and lawyer Adam Holland.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 26 Sep 2016 07:35:11 Processing Time: 461ms