Strong community resistance has been predicted to the proposed 40 per cent increase in Tauranga's total rate take over the next three years.
''It is very over the top,'' city councillor Rick Curach said today before the council voted overwhelmingly to go out for public consultation on its 2018-28 Long Term Plan.
Curach said he expected ratepayer resistance, saying his next-door neighbour told him he would not get re-elected with that level of rate rise. A candidate for the upcoming by-election had expressed similar sentiments to him.
Councillor Larry Baldock said he looked forward to the community feedback and the challenges of what things should be cut to reduce the rate increase.
''We have gone through an extensive process to get to this point,'' Baldock said.
People wanted a liveable city. Facilities and protections needed this type of money, he said before singling out issues that included higher wastewater costs and environmental protections.
''It will be a healthy discussion, but we must bear in mind the things that need to be done.''
The council was proposing to soften the impact on residential ratepayers, particularly those living in lower valued homes, by phasing in a rates differential for the city's commercial ratepayers. By the end of three years they could be paying a 60 per cent higher rate in the dollar of property value than householders.
And the fixed portion of rates, the uniform annual charge, was reducing from 29 per cent of total revenue to 15 per cent - a reduction of about $375 per property.
It meant that although an average 10 per cent overall rate increase was proposed for Tauranga this year, rates for residential ratepayers would go up by an average of 5.5 per cent.
Councillor Steve Morris said the council lacked a little bit of leadership and they should be hanging their heads in shame at the increase. No one who put their hands up at the last council election would have accepted 40 per cent, he said.
Morris said there was a perception Tauranga's level of rates was holding the city back, but it was one of the highest rated metros in the country behind Auckland and Porirua and it did not even do rubbish.
He said there was a 28 per cent increase in staff costs, or $30 million, while debt would go from half a billion to one billion over the 10 years.
''I think this draft is a failure of leadership around this table.''
Councillor Terry Molloy said leadership was incredibly important and not easy, and the council had to make the hard calls.
''It will cost a lot of money to take this city forward and it would be incredibly disappointing if decisions were made on the basis of councillors keeping their seats around the table.''
Mayor Greg Brownless said decisions would have to be made on the basis of affordability and there was no point pretending it would be easy.
''Some people will have severe difficulties with this. We want to hear from everybody and make our decisions accordingly.''
Councillor Catherine Stewart was the only opposing vote to go out for consultation, saying it was not about getting re-elected but the high social cost and what the city could afford.
''It is unfair to go out [for consultation] with rates at this level ... you can't have everything and that is a fact of life.''
She called the draft plan outrageous.
Councillor Leanne Brown called the 500-page document a starting point which, after hearing from submitters, they should be able to balance things out and come up with something really good.
Rate increases over three years
Proposed rate increases for the next three years, including kerbside rubbish collection.
2018-19: 5.5 per cent
2019-20: 5.6 per cent
2020-21: 7.3 per cent
2018-19: 28 per cent
2019-20: 15 per cent
2020-21: 17 per cent
Source - Tauranga City Council