While hopeful politicians are polishing their CVs and rehearsing catchy slogans, North Shore ratepayers are counting the cost of their city council's decisions since the last election.

Candidates standing for the new North Shore Ward of the Auckland Council can expect questions on how affordable property rates will be when there is a whole Super City to run.

In this ward, which is about twice the size of Whangarei, household rates have risen steadily.

A Northcote home owner's city council rates bill has gone from $1664 to $1783 to $1913, including the regional amenities levy.

For 2007-08 rates set just before the last election, the bill was $1571.

The successive rates rises for the present council term were 5.91 per cent, 7.18 per cent and this year 7.27 per cent. A Birkenhead home's rates went from $1828, to $1941, to $2027 and to $2171. Each year, rates went up by 6.18 per cent, 4.46 per cent and 7.09 per cent. A Bayswater home's rates have gone from $1780 to $1889 to $2010 to $2116. The successive rates rises have been 6.14 per cent, 6.37 per cent and 5.26 per cent.

On top of that comes the Auckland Regional Council rates bill which is $220 for the Northcote house, $380 for the Birkenhead house, and $336 for the Bayswater house.

Ward candidate George Wood recalls that before the 2007 elections he had been mayor for nine years when his council published a plan of works it wanted to start or finish in the next 10 years. This flagged rates rises of 8 per cent a year over six years and the doubling of rates over the decade.

He recalls warm public acceptance for the plan because people wanted to fix sewers that leaked and overflowed on to streets and beaches and wanted transport improvements such as the Northern Busway.

More than $550 million of new capital works on infrastructure was completed over five years.

But the rates rises were an election gift for an aggressive council critic like Andrew Williams, who successfully campaigned for mayor promising to spread projects over 15 years, with a goal of bringing rates rises down under 5 per cent.

This election will not be a return blood match for Mr Wood and Mr Williams. The latter is standing for the Auckland mayoralty, which will boost his profile in an alternative bid for a seat on the neighbouring Albany Ward.

Mr Wood supports reform of Auckland and has linked with the Citizens & Ratepayers ticket for his Super City bid. He would be the "social conscience" of the ticket, which had put his policy for building strong communities on top of its list. "We have to keep a lid on costs. I've gained experience in how to do things in a more affordable way than probably when I was mayor of North Shore."

He faces strong competition. Dr Grant Gillon, a former MP, has been influential as strategy and finance chairman in William's term, particularly in shaping the 2009-2024 long-term plan. The father of Paula Gillon, Labour candidate for Northcote, and John Gillon, who is chairman of the Glenfield Community Board, he said he was "truly independent".

Rate costs were a bigger issue than transport, he said. People worried about the new council moving to a different rating system and bringing in volumetric charges for waste water.

North Shore had aimed at cost recovery only through a fixed annual charge for sewerage. This has risen from $329 to $480 in a decade.

A frequent opponent in council debates, Chris Darby, leads the Shore Voice ticket, which he said wanted collaboration with the North Shore's five MPs who are Government ministers.

During his six years on the council, he sat on the Regional Land Transport Committee.

Dr Joel Cayford has been North Shore's representative on the Auckland Regional Council for six years and Christine Rankin for three. Both wish to represent the ward.

Ms Rankin, who was appointed a Families Commissioner after being elected to the ARC, is also standing for the Upper Harbour Local Board on the North Now ticket.

Dr Cayford said he had experience in dealing with council-controlled organisations and would try to keep them accountable.

He understood water tariffs and was cynical about the announcement that Watercare Services would from July charge $1.30 per 1000 litres for drinking water, compared to the $1.52 North Shore residents pay now.


Ethnicity: European 65.2 per cent, Asian 19.8 per cent, Maori 17.3 per cent, Pacific 4. per cent
Population: 143,200
Median age: 35
Median household income: $65,811.
Birthplace: New Zealand-born 60.7 per cent, overseas-born 39.3 per cent

* Steve Ashby, Independent
* Mary-Anne Benson-Cooper, Independent
* Joel Cayford, Independent
* Chris Darby, Shore Voice
* Harry Fong, Independent
* Grant Gillon, Independent
* Ann Hartley, Shore Voice
* Vivienne Keohane, Independent
* Ken McKay, Independent
* Jan O'Connor, Independent
* Christine Rankin, North Now
* George Wood, Citizens & Ratepayers - North Shore

* From the New Zealand Herald feature, 'Super City - Election Guide'