• Auckland Council rates bills will be available to view online from 9am tomorrow.
• Rates payment options are available for people who may struggle with increases.
• A rates rebate calculator is available.
• Auckland Council is spending up to $90,000 to provide advance warnings to householders
Auckland Council is spending up to $90,000 to provide advance warnings to householders to be hit by rates rises not due to be generally notified until 9am tomorrow.
The council is making about 12,000 phone calls to brace those ratepayers for the worst, and has been mailing around 77,000 letters to let others know their rates notices will be coming soon.
A spokeswoman said the phone campaign had been funded through the council's long-term budget, to the tune of a $60,000 initially, but with an option to add another $30,000 if needed.
"The call is a chance for council staff to talk through changes to rates as a result of revaluation, transition, change of property and the transport levy...." she said.
It is in advance of the council's rating database going live online at midnight tonight.
But Point Chevalier resident Andrew Robertson, for whom a phone call received last night as he was cooking dinner for his family of six warning him of a 46 per cent rates rise, has condemned the campaign as another example of a spend-thrift council.
Mr Robertson, who faces a $1720 increase to $5500 in his rates bill, said he was expecting "some variation" in an average residential rise of 9.9 per cent in view of recent property revaluations.
"But 46 per cent?" he asked.
"I guess the phone call is part of the reason why it costs so much. What a waste of money calling me - so much for 10 per cent."
"It must cost money to have a person sitting on a phone ringing up ratepayers telling them what's going to be coming in a couple of days anyway. What's the point?"
Mr Robertson, who runs a shoe retailing business, acknowledges living in "a nice house - but I still don't think it's worth that much."
The four-bedroom weatherboard home in Pt Chevalier Rd, into which the family moved last year, has a valuation of $1.96 million.
He said he did not begrudge the council a new transport levy of $114 a household.
"I actually don't mind that - I guess our rates are up about $1700 so a hundred bucks for a good outcome is okay."
But he did not see any other increases in services to justify the extra burden, and noted that households were losing their traditional inorganic rubbish collection.
Although the average 9.9 per cent resident rates rise will work out at $214 for the average household, the council has acknowledged that about 34,000 households will pay may more $500 and that 9000 of those will face increases of more than $1000.
Auckland Council said while some ratepayers may not welcome a direct call, most appreciated the gesture.
"We take our responsibility to communicate with Auckland ratepayers seriously and make no apology for calling those most affected by the changes to this year's rates," said council spokesman Matthew Walker.
"In this case, the calls were an opportunity to explain a complex set of changes to those affected the most, and to make sure they knew what help and support was available where they may have difficulty paying.
"While a direct call may not be welcomed by everyone, the overwhelming response has been that people appreciate council reaching out to them directly on an important issue."
Auckland rates: How much will you pay?
Auckland's Council's rating database, at which people can find how much they'll pay for the 2015/16 year, will go live at midnight.
But combined with a bump in targeted rates the overall average hike is 9.9 per cent for Auckland residents.
The average residential rates increase this year is 4.2 per cent.
The average increase for businesses is 1.4 per cent, and rates will decrease 9.7 per cent on average for farms and lifestyle property owners.
Councillor Cameron Brewer said "tens of thousands" of households are in for a big shock when they see they're up for at least another $500 in rates, with 9000 households up for more than $1,000.
"This will spark off a long local body election campaign, adding fuel to an already raging fire burning within suburban ratepayers."
A number of factors go into the setting of rates this year.
They include the general rate, targeted rate, lowering of the business rate, new property valuations and the final step to move to a single rating system for the Super City.
A combination of these factors have led to rates increases of more than 10 per cent for about 126,000 households and more than 20 per cent for about 30,000 households.
Next year, the average rates increase for residential properties will be 3.7 per cent, and between 3.7 per cent and 4 per cent thereafter for the following 10 years.
From this year, rates will be calculated the same way across the Auckland region, and rates are no longer capped as they previously were for some households.
Fixed rate portion the Uniform Annual General charge has increased to $385 this year, from $373.35 last year.
A fixed transport levy will also be added to rates bills.
For residential and farm or lifestyle block property owners, this will be $113.85.
For business ratepayers the levy will be $182.85.
Rates payment options are available for people on low incomes or who may struggle with increases.
These include rebates, which can be calculated on the Department of Internal Affairs website http://www.dia.govt.nz/web/submitforms.nsf/RatesRebateCalc?OpenForm or by calling Auckland Council on 301 0101 to discuss eligibility.
This year the maximum rebate increased to $610 and the income threshold increased to $24,440.
The council's general manager of financial plan, policy and budget Matthew Walker said an increase in people seeking support was expected.
The closing date for rebate applications is June 30, 2016.
Mr Walker also said heavy traffic to the site was expected tomorrow.
He said there was an internal council initiative to ensure staff did not contribute to the system overloading, and the site had been tested.
In November, the council's website crashed after it was overloaded by Aucklanders eager to find their property's capital valuation.