Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Auckland mayoral candidate Victoria Crone's rates promise

Auckland mayoral candidate Vic Crone is promising to hold annual rates increases at 2 per cent over three years.

In her first mayor policy announcement, the right-leaning businesswoman today announced a four-pronged fiscal plan to hold down rates, cut waste, reduce staffing costs and control debt.

She said rates increases over the past three years had been out of whack with other market prices.

"Last year ratepayers faced a 9.9 per cent average rates increase, for some it was a shocking 15 per cent.

"As mayor I will cap average residential rates increases at 2 per cent per annum for the next three years," she said.

Ms Crone told the Herald an interim targeted transport rate that accounted for 4.4 per cent of this year's 9.9 per cent rates increase should go, but at this stage is not committing herself to ditch it in 2018.

The targeted rate of $114 for households a year is set to raise about $180 million over three years to fund $523 million on new spending on transport.

Ms Crone said the targeted rate will be reviewed along with the uniform annual charge of $385 which hurts lower value properties as it rises and higher value properties as it falls.

Ms Crone said delivering at least $500 million in savings would focus on reducing back-office waste, better procurement, cutting duplication and be part of a mayor-led line-item review programme.

She also plans to reduce staff costs by between 5 per cent to 10 per cent saving $40 million to $80 million and cap staff numbers.

"Auckland Council's staff numbers have grown out of control, and in each of the last three budgets the staff cost line-item has blown out by more than $50 million," she said.

She said additional operating surpluses will be prioritised toward paying down debt faster than forecast.

Even with minor changes in interest rates, she said, council could breach its limit of spending no more than 12 per cent of income on interest.

Her policy was developed in conjunction with Auckland Future, a new right-leaning political ticket.

Auckland Future spokeswoman and Maungakiekie-Tamaki councillor, Denise Krum, said she is confident the fiscal pledges will receive strong voter endorsement.

"Ratepayers feel let down by the council consistently treating them like a cash machine. They are crying out for certainty in decision making around the Council table," she said.

"Voters deserve to know that the candidates they vote for will apply fiscal discipline to their decision making.

"Auckland Future is determined to deliver core services in a fiscally sustainable way" Ms Krum said.

- NZ Herald

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