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Surplus Shows Rates Increases Were Not Needed

27 July 2004

Statement from David Thornton

Arc $21 million Surplus Shows Last Years Huge Rates Increases Were Not Needed

The Auckland Regional Council is reporting an unaudited surplus of almost $21 million in the last financial year - the year which saw a rates revolt against huge rates increases to residential ratepayers.

This surplus includes more than $17 million underspent on transport

The total rate increase last year was $27m [plus GST] which was to be spent mostly on improvements to public transport.

The ARC's financial forecasting and management has proved woefully inaccurate and it seems at the very least that more than half of last year's rates increase was not needed.

While the ARC may pride itself on achieving this surplus, residential ratepayers will be asking why there is to be only a small reduction in rates this year for most residential ratepayers.

New rates demands are now going out based on an overall rate increase of about 2% - that increase is on of top of last year's 34% hike in total rates, with a further 13% increase planned for next year.

>From 1st July this year the ARC will also have available additional funds from the former Infrastructure Auckland - some of which can be used on ARC's general operational costs.

A two or three year delay in introducing additional bus services in some parts of the region add to the mystery of why there is a general rate increase this year..

There must be serious doubts about the ARC's need for extra rates income this year.

The public can have little faith in a council that charges high rates for services it does not provide, and collects more than it can spend.

ENDS

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