The birth of a baby and the vote of a National Party candidate helped Auckland Mayor Phil Goff get his "bed tax" over the line yesterday.
The controversial bed tax, or targeted rate, was passed by 11 votes to 8, at a budget meeting before being confirmed by a meeting of the full governing body.
Howick councillor Sharon Stewart missed the vote after being called away to the birth of her daughter's baby. She opposed the targeted rate.
Councillor Denise Lee, the National Party candidate for Maungakiekie at September's elections, made a late call to back the targeted rate on hotels and motels.
Asked by the Herald on Wednesday night which camp she was in, Lee said: "I'm best to remain as question mark". Yesterday, Lee told colleagues the turning point for supporting the measure was lessening the burden on ratepayers.
The two acts nailed the 11-8 vote for Goff. If Stewart had been present for the vote and Lee had voted against the targeted rate, the vote could have been lost.
Their votes against the measure would have left the vote tied 10-all at the budget meeting of the finance and performance committee, and passed on the casting vote of committee chairman Ross Clow.
That would have set up a potential 10-9 vote against the measure at the subsequent governing body meeting. This is because the Maori Statutory Board, which had two members on the finance and performance committee, is not represented at governing body level.
The chain of events were good news for Goff and bad news for opponents, including the hotel and hospitality industries, which have mounted a vigorous campaign against the targeted rate.
In order to appease industry and political concerns, Goff watered down the targeted rate in May by excluding backpackers, camping grounds and areas on the fringe of the city.
The rate is now expected to raise $13.5m, rather than the original $27m to fund spending by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) to attract visitors and events and free up investment for transport.
Last night, an industry source called the events a shambolic and disgraceful process.
"So much of it is crying out for review legally, it's question of where to start, not if to start," the source said.
Goff is adamant the council is on firm legal ground, saying the targeted rate is consistent with the Local Government Act, Fair Trading Act and Commerce Act based on advice from council's own legal team, the law firm Simpson Grierson and David Goddard, QC.
Goff said the targeted rate will add between $1 and $3 a night for motels and between $3 and $6 for hotels.
"It is the price of a cup of coffee and a Big Mac," said right-leaning councillor Desley Simpson, a supporter of Goff in the long battle.
A different take was made by Papakura-Manurewa councillor Daniel Newman: "No one gets off the plane from Singapore to check into the Manurewa Village."
The village provides emergency accommodation for the poor and the homeless and is being asked to pay $2780 for the targeted rate on top of normal rates of $8500 to fund things like Adele and Justin Bieber concerts, he said.
The council also approved a 2.5 per cent rates increase, the introduction of the living wage for 2064 staff over three years and $500,000 to co-ordinate agencies supporting the homeless.