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Action Hobson Slams Auckland Rates-Hike Plan

Thursday 10 February 2005

Action Hobson Slams Auckland Rates-Hike Plan

Action Hobson will oppose every aspect of the City Vision/Labour rates-hike plan announced this morning, Auckland City Councillors Christine Caughey and Richard Simpson announced today.

"We vehemently oppose this plan because it is old-fashioned and wrong," Cr Caughey said. "It is old-fashioned because it relies solely on raising property rates and it is wrong because it will extract more cash from Aucklanders than the Council legitimately needs."

Under the City Vision/Labour rates-hike plan, tens of thousands of Aucklanders face rates hikes of more than 15 percent in 2005/6 and many will pay over 20 percent more. Even Hobson residents with homes with Council valuations of $300,000 will pay nearly 10 percent more. Many Auckland property owners will face further substantial rates hikes in 2006/7 as a result of Council revaluations of their homes.

"The City Vision/Labour rate-hike plan is more about socking it to the perceived rich than about getting Auckland moving again," Cr Simpson said. "Action Hobson campaigned to make Auckland a more attractive city for international investors and businesspeople, and the City Vision/Labour rates-hike plan is anathema to that goal."

Action Hobson acknowledged that Auckland City did need to raise extra revenue to improve public transport and rejuvenate the city after years of neglect from Citizens & Ratepayers Now. While Action Hobson policy for last year's election was to restrict rate rises to no more than the rate of inflation, it had been prepared to compromise with other groups on the Auckland City Council to minimise the impact of any rates rise.

"Those offers are now completely off the table," Cr Caughey said. "Auckland will never move forward in a sustainable way with such an old-fashioned, sock-it-to-the-perceived-rich rates policy that will simply lead to a political reaction from the other side of the political fence."

Cr Simpson said Auckland needed revenue enhancements that were innovative and sustainable and which protected the environment and promoted Auckland's heritage.

"Before raising rates in a knee-jerk way, we need to consider ideas such as CBD congestion charges, hotel bed fees, rating Ports of Auckland, retaining GST on rates and using our relationships with central Government to ensure Auckland gets its fair share of the national tax take. Ideas such as these could keep rates low, deliver the revenue the city needs and make Auckland a better city in which to live," he said.

While being prepared to consider revenue enhancements, the Action Hobson Councillors said they disagreed with spending ratepayers' money to invest in housing, seeing this as central Government's responsibility.


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