Head of Auckland Chamber of Commerce, Michael Barnett, says the Auckland rates rise is "outrageous".

Auckland Council approved its "emergency budget" yesterday, which includes a 3.5 per cent rates rise, asset sales of $224 million and reinstating library cuts.

The vote at the finance committee was overwhelming, with only councillors Greg Sayers, Chris Fletcher and John Watson voting against the 3.5 per cent rates increase.

The budget contains cuts to services and projects to plug a massive hole that grew from $525 million due to the Covid crisis to $750m to provide extra water for the worst drought in the city's history.


Barnett told Newstalk ZB "in an environment where I don't think businesses or residents can afford a cost increase, the council has chosen not to hear".

Aucklanders will notice lower service levels with the 3.5 per cent rates rise, such as reduced cleaning and maintenance around parks and town centres.

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Barnett said Auckland Council should look at the size of the organisation at the same time that businesses have recently had to re-size.

Barnett said he supports the sale of assets but "to me they are sitting on billions of dollars of assets and that's where they should be looking, to try and help this city move ahead".

"The size of this organisation versus what it is they're delivering and what it is this city needs [is] two very different things."

The budget has also resulted in the loss of 600 temporary staff and contractors and an announcement that the council will shed 500 permanent staff.

After some last-minute funding from the NZ Transport Agency, a further $40m will be spent on road safety and to pick up public transport shortfalls until December.


The council has also reinstated $450,000 to ensure library hours are not cut.

Household rates will rise by about 4.4 per cent and water bills are set to rise due to the impacts of Covid-19 and the drought crisis.