Auckland Council is planning to sell $244 million of properties and long-term concessions on car parks as part of its "emergency budget", which is being finalised today.
The sale, which includes 48 properties valued at $34.5m, was the first item before councillors as they work their way through the toughest budget in the 10 years of the Super City.
The sales will go some way to filling a $750m hole in the budget brought about by the impact of Covid-19. The drought crisis is responsible for $225m of the hole.
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The councillors are working towards a 3.5 per cent overall rates increase, which translates to a 4.4 per cent rates increase for households. Water charges are also expected to go up.
Rising waste management costs in different parts of the city and a plan to lower business rates by gradually increasing household rates means household rates will increase by between 4.3 per cent and 4.45 per cent under the 3.5 per cent rates option.
In dollar terms, the average household rates bill in the old Auckland City and Manukau City areas will rise by about $130 and $110 in other parts of the city.
The council's head of the value for money programme, Ross Chirnside, said the council had increased the target for property sales from $24m in the pre-Covid budget to $244m in the emergency budget.
The plan is to sell properties and concessions to the Civic, Victoria St and Fanshawe St car parks. Auckland Transport is preparing a business case on these, Chirnside said.
Chirnside said the sales process would follow a set of principles, including that properties would not be sold for less than 90 per cent of the valuation and meet statutory obligations to mana whenua.
He said the process came with risks, including a short timeframe and whether people will want to invest in long-term carpark concessions.
Councillor John Watson said the sales represent a significant increase from what was outlined earlier, saying asset sales are a very sensitive topic and a concern for local boards.
There is a lack of trust and hopefully the principles will go some way to realising this, he said.
Finance committee chairwoman Desley Simpson said the process was not a fire sale, nor the sale of strategic assets.
Councillors at today's finance committee meeting approved the sales.
In the last two years, Simpson said, the council had sold about 20 properties "and if we don't keep it coming it will affect cashflow and capital expenditure".
Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore said the property sales are always going to be emotive, but by selling properties the council can use the money to buy more useful properties, land for parks and community facilities.
"This is an opportunity we need to embrace now," he said.