Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Mayor ready for noisy 'losers'

Auckland mayor Len Brown. Photo / Getty Images
Auckland mayor Len Brown. Photo / Getty Images

Thousands of Aucklanders are in for a shock when Mayor Len Brown unveils a new rates system tomorrow.

Details are being kept secret, reserved, but Mr Brown told the Herald he expected a "very noisy" reception from ratepayers on the losing side of the new system.

As Mayor of the Super City, Mr Brown has the political challenge of changing from the current medley of eight different rating systems to a single system next year.

"We know there is going to be a significant proportion of the population who will get a rates increase and some who will get a rates decrease," he said.

Details of Mr Brown's proposals will be presented to the strategy and finance committee on the same day Auckland property owners begin to receive their latest valuations.

The new property valuations will not necessarily lead to an increase or decrease in rates.

With the exception of big jumps in inner-city suburbs such as Grey Lynn and Westmere, most valuations have fluctuated between plus and minus 10 per cent.

But the valuations are only one factor affecting rates. The other will be the new rating system based on the level of uniform charges, targeted rates, business differentials and user charges proposed by Mr Brown.

"Ultimately you are going to be in the situation where there are winners and losers," Mr Brown said.

"Those that are losers will be very noisy and those who are winners will say nothing at all."

He will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the 2003 regionwide revolt that occurred when the Auckland Regional Council introduced a system that pushed some bills up 467 per cent.

The new rating system will be part of Mr Brown's first long-term plan that will set out his priorities for the next 10 years and how they will be funded.

He will be seeking an overall rates increase around the forecast rate of inflation of 3.4 per cent following this year's rates increase of 3.94 per cent.

A lot of attention will centre on how Mr Brown proposes to fund his top transport priority - the $2.4 billion inner-city rail loop.

He is expected to include tolls and congestion charges as alternative cash sources for the rail loop.

But Transport Minister Steven Joyce has expressed "significant reservations", saying motorists already contribute about 11 per cent of their fuel taxes to public transport.

- NZ Herald

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