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2.5 per cent rates limit the lowest in region

2.5 per cent rates limit the lowest in Auckland region again

Auckland City councillors have confirmed today that they will limit the total rates increase to the rate of inflation set at 2.5 per cent.

Councillors confirmed the rating policy for the next financial year at today’s combined meeting of all eight council committees. The Combined Committees sets budget policy and other priorities for the financial year from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2004. The council then adopted the policy.

Overall the rates requirement for the 2003/2004 will be $289.6 million (excluding GST).

The rating policy was included in the council’s draft annual plan – which was subject to a major public consultation campaign in April and May.

Auckland City Council’s Combined Committees chairperson, Councillor Douglas Armstrong, says; “The fact the council is limiting the increase to the rate of inflation is testament to the council’s prudent financial management of the city.

“It’s a sensible decision. It preserves the council’s revenue base. We have again set the lowest rates increase in the region and one of the lowest in the country.

“All ratepayers will also benefit significantly from the recently announced 10 per cent prompt payment discount from Metrowater charges.”

The rating policy confirms an increase of the targeted rate for waste collection from $47 to $110, which will completely provide the 2.5 per cent of extra revenue required to preserve the council’s current income in real terms.

A change from the draft annual plan is that the waste collection charge will be applied to each rating unit, but not necessarily to each separately used or inhabited part.

The waste collection service will be charged according to the service received before 1 July 2003. For example, if a property has six units on it, and as of 1 July 2003 they only received three waste collection services, then they will only be charged for three waste collections.

If an extra waste collection service is needed it can be applied for and an extra $110 for each additional service will be collected.

In another change to the draft annual plan, in cases of an apartment complex which uses a private contractor instead of the council kerbside service, the waste collection charge will not apply, provided the private service covers all units.

The Combined Committees meeting also agreed its rating policy will include replacing part of the general rate with a uniform annual general charge of $150.

Introducing a uniform annual general charge (UAGC) will smooth the impact on some residential properties of the recent revaluation of city properties, says Councillor Armstrong.

“Last year’s city-wide property revaluation has resulted in an increased rates burden on most residential ratepayers. The council has explored a number of options to limit this burden, including the uniform annual general charge.”

The UAGC would also result in every ratepayer contributing the same amount to council provided services that are accessible to and for the benefit of everyone, such as parks and libraries. The old annual value-based rating system did not do this.

“Regardless of whether your property is worth $100,000 or $1,000,000, every ratepayer benefits from council provided services like the art gallery, street lighting, footpaths, parks and libraries.

“We believe replacing part of the general rate with a $150 charge to recognise the benefit to each ratepayer of these and many other services is an improvement to the council’s rating policy.”

The UAGC will apply to each separately used or inhabited part of a property.

The Combined Committees meeting also agreed the rating policy would include an alteration to the business differential, the amount of rates paid by business compared to residential ratepayers, to further limit the impact of the revaluation on residential ratepayers.

The combined effect of all the rating policy decisions of today’s Combined Committees meeting means the average rates increase for residential properties will be 5.4 per cent.

“The impact on individual residential ratepayers will vary – some will be lower than this average increase and others will be higher. The meeting has approved a rating policy that results in the best outcome for all residential ratepayers.”

Non-residential ratepayers in general will have significantly lower rates increases, within the overall 2.5 per cent increase, as their property valuations did not increase by anywhere near as much as those of residential ratepayers

The major elements adopted by the 2003/2004 Auckland City rates policy are: to cover inflation, the council will increase overall rates by 2.5 per cent to collect the 2.5 per cent increase needed to cover inflation the waste collection charge will increase from $47 to $110 a $150 UAGC will be introduced to off-set the significant increase in residential property values. This charge does not collect more rates for the council, it replaces part of the value-based general rate the non-residential differentials are adjusted to limit the impact of the 2002 property revaluation on residential ratepayers to $7.5m Auckland Regional Council will now collect its own rates.

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