Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Auckland faces 2.5pc rates rise

Mayor Len Brown has abandoned his three-year-old promise to hold increases around the rate of inflation

Mr Brown has come under fire over his rates policy. Photo / Michael Craig
Mr Brown has come under fire over his rates policy. Photo / Michael Craig

Mayor Len Brown is promising a rates rise of 2.5 per cent next year with inflation at 0.7 per cent - its lowest level in 14 years.

With the pace of inflation dipping, Mr Brown has stopped promising to hold rates around the rate of inflation.

In his inauguration speech three years ago, Mr Brown promised Aucklanders he had "every intention" of keeping rates rises as close as possible to the rate of inflation.

"At a time when many are experiencing economic hardship, the last thing they need are higher rates bills," he assured Aucklanders.

Since then, Mr Brown has set average rate rises of 3.94 per cent, 3.4 per cent and 2.9 per cent - a cumulative total of 10.6 per cent.

Yesterday, Mr Brown's campaign spokesman, David Lewis, said the mayor was not basing rate rises on an inflation target for a second term but proposing an average rate rise of no more than 2.5 per cent.

Rate rises in the first term were much lower than the combined plans of the previous councils, Mr Lewis said.

The picture has been skewed by the introduction of a single rating system in 2012 that resulted in many ratepayers paying more than the average and many paying less.

Residents in the Albert-Eden, Puketepapa, Orakei, Maungakiekie-Tamaki and Howick Local Board areas have been hit with average rates increases of between 15.7 per cent and 19.7 per cent.

Mr Brown has come under fire over his rates policy, including a decision in 2012 to set the uniform annual charge at $350, which benefits low-value properties but leads to bigger rate increases for high-value properties.

At a mayoral debate in the wealthy Orakei ward two weeks ago, Mr Brown said he would not rule out raising the annual charge at some point in the future.

Mr Brown's main rival for the mayoralty, John Palino, said every year the mayor had increased rates above inflation and limiting rates to 2.5 per cent when inflation was less than 1 per cent was insulting to people on fixed and lower incomes.

Mr Palino has promised not to increase rates above inflation if he is elected.

Rates rises
3.94% - 2011
3.4% - 2012
2.9% - 2013
10.6% - cumulative total

- NZ Herald

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