Aucklanders are facing more rates pain and the prospect of a $2 motorway toll, which could go to a referendum.
The budget committee yesterday decided to investigate the costs and practicalities of an Auckland-wide referendum on motorway tolls or higher petrol prices to plug a $12 billion transport funding gap.
Mayor Len Brown has called the debate on new funding sources the most important Auckland has ever had, and floated the idea of a referendum himself in 2011.
Councillor Cathy Casey wanted every Aucklander to have a say on the new charges, which she opposes. Several other councillors support a referendum, although Mr Brown is now cool on the idea.
The possibility of Auckland households paying almost $1600 more a year in motorway tolls, and an average extra cost to households of $345, is among a raft of costs contained in a 10-year budget.
Mr Brown and councillors voted 16-7 for a proposal to increase rates by 3.5 per cent for each year of the new budget.
They were responding to an angry reaction from the 21 Local Boards, aghast at a proposed 40 per cent cut to capital spending on parks, community services and leisure activities.
Mr Brown, who promised voters to hold overall rates at 2.5 per cent this term, said: "If I could find something to bridge that gap between 2.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent I would."
Councillor Cameron Brewer said instead of increasing rates, the council should be looking at savings from its $3 billion operational budget.
The previous proposal was for a 2.5 per cent rates rise over the next two years and 3.5 per cent thereafter.
The 3.5 per cent proposal comes when the latest inflation rate is 1 per cent for the year to September. The cumulative total of 3.5 per cent rates increases over 10 years is 41 per cent.
Meanwhile, an amendment to defer the City Rail Link until the Government comes on board with funding, but proceed with the "enabling works" around the Downtown Shopping Centre, was defeated by 16 votes to seven.
How they voted
For 3.5 per cent rates rise:
Len Brown, Penny Webster, Arthur Anae, Cathy Casey, Bill Cashmore, Ross Clow, Linda Cooper, Chris Darby, Alf Filipaina, Penny Hulse, Mike Lee, Calum Penrose, Sir John Walker, Wayne Walker and Maori Statutory Board members David Taipari and John Tamihere.
Cameron Brewer, Chris Fletcher, Denise Krum, Dick Quax, Sharon Stewart, John Watson, George Wood.