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9.7 rates increase for public consultation

10 March 2005

Council agrees 9.7 rates increase for public consultation

Decisions made by Auckland City Council’s combined committees today will ensure that the pressures of funding a rapidly growing city will be spread more fairly across ratepayers and the users of services in Auckland city.

“For too long rates in Auckland City have not kept up with the needs of a growing city,” said Mayor, Mr Dick Hubbard. “Limited funding and increased pressure on resources has meant the council has had to make some tough financial decisions for the year ahead including increasing rates.”

The draft budget package provides for a rates increase of 9.7 per cent, including four new targeted rates which will inject another $60 million into the city’s budget over the next three years.

The balance is made up of a 2.7 per cent allowance for inflation.

The new targeted rates for all ratepayers will be ring fenced to fund priority needs facing the city including:

Transport: $42 million for transport projects made up of an extra $14 million a year from a new five per cent targeted rate (which should attract an extra $17 million in extra transport subsidies from central government). Creating open spaces and protecting the city’s volcanic cones: $8.4 million including an additional $2.8 million a year raised from a new one per cent targeted rate.

Urban design and heritage preservation: $4.2 million including new funding of $1.4 million per year raised from the new 0.5 per cent targeted rate

Community development and housing: new funding of $4.2 million over the next three years from a new 0.5 per cent targeted rate.

“The city is running a tight ship,” said Mr Hubbard. “Ratepayers want value for their money and I can assure them that the increase in rates is going towards projects that will deal to the priority issues facing the city.”

Councillor Vern Walsh, chair of the council’s Finance and Corporate Business Committee said that, along with rates increases, tough budget cut decisions were required each year to pay for the pressures of growth on the city.

“We will continue to review all sections of the organisation to identify efficiencies, savings and new revenue sources to ensure the work we are dong is the right work, at the right price.

“We know that ratepayers cannot be squeezed any further. We need a balance of measures to keep rates at the right level to move the city forward.

“This will mean that people who use council services more than others can expect to pay a bit more so that ratepayers are not footing the whole bill.”

Proposed changes to charges will make it fairer for people to contribute to help overcome pressures placed on the city. Measures include:

reviewing parking charges in parts of the city where demand for parking has increased, to ensure a more effective and efficient use of the spaces available

ensuring developers make a fair contribution to pay for the increased pressure on infrastructure such as open space and stormwater that new developments create

removing the targeted rate for Waiheke Island ratepayers for the upgrade of the Waiheke Island refuse transfer station. The cost will be covered by a $2 increase in the city-wide refuse collection targeted rate from $129 to $131

providing a rates rebate scheme to help low income ratepayers to pay their rates

rebalancing the rates load between high and low value properties by reducing the uniform annual general charge (UAGC), introduced by the previous council, from $189 to $95

Other funding also agreed includes:

A $200,000 grant to the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra

a dedicated events promotion budget of $500,000

funding to continue Heritage week of $50,000

Decisions made at the meeting will be published in Auckland City’s draft annual plan 2005/2006. It will be available for public feedback from 20 April to 20 May 2005.

Once the public’s feedback has been taken into account the plans will be made final and published at the end of July.

ENDS

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