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Sir Barry Curtis Comments On ARC Rating Issue

Media Release
25 July 2003

Sir Barry Curtis Comments On Arc Rating Issue

Manukau Mayor Sir Barry Curtis says he can understand why many people in the Auckland regional community feel aggrieved and angry with the ARC rating bills they have received.

"I am most anxious to see balance in the debate. I am very supportive of the ARC’s move to fund significant improved public passenger transport modes in the region.

"I am aware that a significant part of the transport network rates will be borne by all ratepayers in the region. Included is the funding of the North Shore Busway and the upgrade of suburban rail. These are urgent and vital projects to ease congestion on the major highways of Auckland.

"The transport system has been under-funded for years and the improvements everyone’s crying out for don’t come cheap, either for roads or better buses and trains. I support the ARC’s move to improve public transport.

"At this stage, much of the money must come from rates and it is unfair that the agency responsible for making the improvements is coming under such public attack.

"Present and future ratepayers will need to play their part to achieve the outcomes sought in the Land Transport Strategy and the Passenger Transport Action Plan. Frankly, people are sick and tired of sitting on congested highways trying to get to work and home.

"This is the first time the ARC, with no experience in direct rating matters, has billed individual ratepayers across the region.

"My Council did make submissions to the ARC’s Draft Annual Plan on the proposed rating policies and advocated it used differential rating between sectors i.e. residential, business and rural, together with uniform charges for all properties to achieve a fair and equitable burden on individual ratepayers. This could have largely overcome the issues presently being debated across the region.

"Whilst the debate rages Aucklanders need to be aware that a tremendous amount of work is also going on between Government, local authorities and the ARC to identify alternative sources of finance other than rates to fund the Auckland Land Transport Strategy.

"It needs to be said that any system of rating based on land value and/or capital value never results in a fair and reasonable distribution of rating for everyone.

"As Mayor of Manukau I will continue to advocate that the ARC review its rating policies for the future in accordance with the submission we made this year. I am very conscious of the effect present rating bills have on ratepayers, particularly those on fixed incomes. Therefore, I intend to concentrate on these issues to achieve more fairness and equity.

"Manukau City Council has anticipated the effect on our ratepayers, and made the decision some time ago to delay our normal August rates instalment until September. We hope that this will ease the financial burden on ratepayers."

ENDS

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