The newest ratepayers' group in Tauranga has poured scorn on the commissioners' Long-term Plan calling it "unsustainable, undeliverable and undesirable".
The Tauranga Ratepayers' Alliance held its second public meeting at Tauranga Racecourse on Tuesday night after a packed launch event last month.
Tauranga City Council commissioners signed off on rates rises at the Long-term Plan deliberations meeting on Friday last week.
Average residential rates will rise by 15 per cent and average commercial rates by 33 per cent for 2021-22. The Long-term Plan will be finalised for adoption on July 26.
Ratepayers' Alliance spokesperson Dawn Kiddie - who was among councillors replaced by the commission - said rates rises were "outrageous" and would make Tauranga "unaffordable to many". Her comments were also part of the group's submission to commissioners on the Long-term Plan.
However, commission chairwoman Anne Tolley said the alliance's views on the Long-term Plan "simply don't stack up against any objective analysis".
Kiddie said the group demanded a city plan "to accommodate the existing residents [and] providing [for] the needs of our community - not the wants of central government and Tauranga city council staff".
"We already pay the highest residential rates of the five major cities [Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin].
"These general rates, water measures and user fee charges will hit our pockets and the pockets of Tauranga residents who can least afford it," she said.
Oropi resident Margaret Colmore, who attended the meeting, told the Bay of Plenty Times rates increases were "totally unrealistic" and "many people will be forced to sell and leave Tauranga".
"Most of the 1800 submissions were against the extortionate rates rises, yet our voices are ignored," she said.
"The proposed Cameron Rd upgrade from 17th Ave which will remove all car parks, widen pavements and devote an entire lane to empty buses and a smattering of cyclists ... will gridlock our city even more."
Councillor and steering group member Steve Morris called for community boards for the next election so that "local decisions can be made for locals by locals".
"Real community boards will delegate decision making power and finances from the council table [and] are going to supercharge our democracy.
"If we have community boards ... that will at least ensure some semblance of democracy in Tauranga from 2022 onwards."
Morris said the group would submit in favour of community boards during consultation on how councillors should be elected at the next election.
Bethlehem resident and meeting attendee Norman Sutton told the Bay of Plenty Times he supported the idea of local boards.
"That will enable more local community involvement in how our rates are spent."
Councillor John Robson was invited to speak at the meeting and said the council had "a history of not delivering" and would "continue to fail to deliver".
Robson said after 1800 submissions were made to commissioners on the Long-term Plan, "what came from all that input from the community was no significant changes".
In his view, no change meant house prices would keep increasing, congestion would get worse and the cost of living would continue to outpace incomes.
Robson said there was "almost no mention of emissions" in the Long-term Plan, which was "one of the biggest topics in the country".
"Tauranga City Council and its current plan will not deliver central government's requirement for carbon zero by 2050."
Commission chairwoman Anne Tolley told the Bay of Plenty Times the Long-term Plan delivered $1.9 billion of transport initiatives to encourage a mode shift from private vehicles to public transport, cycling and walking, and to help people move around the city and improve connections.
"That mode change will also have a major impact on carbon emissions."
The plan includes a $2.5b investment in the infrastructure needed to open up new areas for housing development and accommodate more homes within our existing city footprint, she said.
"Over time, those investments will contribute to both housing availability and affordability."
Tolley said rates would go up to address years of underinvestment in community facilities and infrastructure.
"The feedback we have had is that most people are willing to contribute towards a better city, for now and for our future.
"The commercial sector will be paying a fairer share of total rates and we're also working on a possible rates postponement policy, which in future, could help out people on lower incomes."
Tolley said the 2021/22 rates for the median property in Tauranga will be less than those for the median property in the Western Bay of Plenty.
One of the most common messages commissioners heard from hearings, submissions and community meetings was the city needed better community facilities, she said.
"That's exactly what this plan will deliver."
Tolley said commissioners "greatly appreciated" the positive input from people and communities who wanted to help make Tauranga a better place to live, work, learn and play in.
Commissioners will be seeking feedback from the community next month to help shape the representation review which will decide the democratic arrangements for the next local government election.
Tolley said the review will cover the possibility of introducing community boards and will consult the community as to "whether that would be seen as a positive step for the city".
Tauranga's councillors keep their titles until the next election but can no longer act in their roles and have no official responsibilities.