Goff team say rival’s plan will lose city $3.8b in revenue over 10 years.

Mayoral hopeful John Tamihere has promised to freeze Auckland's rates rises for three years and ask landlords to put a hold on rent hikes during his first term.

He has also pledged to take a knife to council credit card spending and says everything would be up for review under his leadership, including mothballing part of the City Rail Link project.

Auckland's current mayor Phil Goff is promising a 3.5 per cent rates rise each year, which Tamihere said totalled $260m over three years - or $86.6m on average annually.

Tamihere said he would cancel those increases, instead finding the money through a 1 per cent "efficiency gain" across the council and CCOs each year.

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He has also pledged to ditch Auckland's regional fuel tax and would ask landlords to freeze rents should he win the election.

But Goff last night rubbished Tamihere's finance plan as "incoherent and lacking in basic financial understanding".

John Tamihere is challenging Phil Goff for the Auckland mayoralty. Photo / Greg Bowker
John Tamihere is challenging Phil Goff for the Auckland mayoralty. Photo / Greg Bowker

His opponent's policy underestimated the cumulative impact of such a rates freeze and didn't account for council borrowing rules, Goff said.

Goff's team estimated the total lost revenue for the city would be closer to $3.8 billion over 10 years.

Tamihere told the Herald there were options to cut infrastructure spending - including the City Rail Link.

He was actively considering mothballing the Grafton to Karangahape Rd section - which he did not believe would damage the project's integrity - but said he would see what could be salvaged once he was elected.

He would also offset lost revenue through previously announced plans such as selling the Ports of Auckland.

Tamihere said he fully supported the thousands of council workers. His sights were set on senior management, administration and contractors.

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"There are multiple things that I see in the city where I just don't see productivity. So if I can see it and other citizens can see it, we've all got a problem.

"I don't know how many credit cards are in play in all the CCOs in the city. I don't know how profligate they've been with them because they won't say. So once you get in there and start opening up the business there will be credit cards cancelled. There will be multiple things done to say, 'No, this is unacceptable'."

The Urban Design Group - run by Ludo Campbell Reid - would be axed under his mayoralty, and "a number" of other CCOs would also be folded back into council, Tamihere said.

He would not specify which CCOs would be targeted but said he had announcements still to be made - including on procurement rules.

Auckland mayoral candidates Phil Goff, and John Tamihere, in the NZME newsroom for a debate hosted by Heather du Plesis-Allen. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Auckland mayoral candidates Phil Goff, and John Tamihere, in the NZME newsroom for a debate hosted by Heather du Plesis-Allen. Photo / Jason Oxenham

The finer details would have to wait until he was in the mayor's chair.

He expected culture to change once an efficiency model was introduced.

He also expected several high-salaried executives to quit in the face of his leadership, leading to more savings, and has already indicated he would axe the regional fuel tax.

He would not be drawn on his 'methodology' for forcing central Government to come on board with his plans and stump up more money - saying repeatedly "wait for the end of the campaign".

"Good negotiators don't disclose all of their tactics."

But he signalled the need to put serious pressure on the Government ahead of next year's general election.

Once Aucklanders voted him in, he would have an "overt mandate" to renegotiate with central government and demand more money back for Auckland's infrastructure.

Tamihere also said he would call on Auckland landlords to pass on the savings from the rates freeze, as well as low interest rates, by freezing rent increases for three years.

Landlords couldn't be forced to do so but he was providing "moral leadership" that property owners should follow, he said.

John Tamihere addresses media about his plans to change transport in Auckland.

Other planks in Tamihere's policy include a reset of the Supercity legislation and consultation on whether the current local board system was working.

Goff told the Herald Tamihere's plan to freeze rates and find that money through savings wouldn't work because the council could not borrow against the money saved - only against revenue.

Goff said policies Tamihere had announced in the past week alone would cost around $12b.

His plans to part-sell Watercare could also lead to increased water bills, off-setting the proposed rates freeze, Goff said.

"Under this plan, the city would lose out on $3.8 billion dollars' worth of rates revenue on top of the $4.3 billion lost from the regional fuel tax. Where is the money going to come from to pay for the work that we desperately need to do in Auckland like transport and housing infrastructure?

"If you add it all up, it totally lacks credibility. This is fantasy land stuff- any commentator worth their salt that looks at revenue and expenditure would say this isn't going to work."

But Tamihere labelled Goff's comments as "scaremongering" and said he wasn't worried about the next decade.

Asked whether he had plans to increase rates in three years time after the rates freeze ended to make up the shortfall. He said that topic was "for another election".

"I'm only dealing with the next three years...judge me at the next election."