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Hubbard Turns His Back on Ratepayers

3rd August 2006

RAM ­ Residents Action Movement

The Mayor of Auckland City, Dick Hubbard, Has Turned His Back on Ratepayers

"The full page newspaper advertisement that cost the Mayor of Auckland City $20,000 from his own pocket explaining why ratepayers should pay a 13.6% rate hike ­ won't win votes in next year's local body elections" says Elaine West of RAM, Residents Action Movement.

"In his second year in office, Mayor Hubbard has continued to turn a deaf ear to public protests about bullish rate rises. And advertisements justifying his stance will not win him public-favour."

Ms West says "The 13.6% rate rise this year will hurt the same people that the previous Council hurt most ­ families, low income and fixed income earners, middle income earners with high overheads ­ who make up the majority of residents."

"Then add the rocketing 9.6% Metrowater charges effective from 1st September. On average, an existing $1000pa water bill for four people in a household will increase by $96pa, and a $2000pa water bill for eight people in a household, is likely to increase by $192pa. And that charge is additional to both City Council and Regional Council rates."

"Mayor Hubbard compares his Council's high rate increases with past Mayors historical achievements ­ but it doesn¹t work. His ad only echoes Auckland City Council's pamphlet "Creating the city you want" which ratepayers received in the post, along with the bill.

"And where is much of the rates-dollar destined? A disproportional amount has gone into the same black hole that the previous Council spent money on ­ the Central Business District. In his ad, Mayor Hubbard writes, The CBD alone is getting a $100m makeover. But he fails to say that this CBD makeover happens on a regular basis at the expense of other residential and business areas."

"A woman from Onehunga recently rang to say that she couldn't afford to pay her rates. She thought the value put onto her property was unjust and served as an excuse to raise local taxes. 'Will Council or the Mayor pay to repair my house and justify its rateable value? Hardly' she said."

"The same woman was looking after her daughter's child so her daughter could go to work to pay rates on her own home ­ a home that she could barely afford to keep."

"So how could Mayor Hubbard have handled the rates issues? RAM, Residents Action Movement ­ as leaders of the Rates Revolt whereby hundreds of thousands of Aucklanders refused to pay the ARC rates a few years ago - held Citizen's Assemblies over a period of six months."

"At the public meetings, a Citizen's Manifesto was drawn up, and agreed to. The item on rates explains that a RAM-led Council would cap rates to the annual level of inflation. If a rates rise above annual inflation was deemed necessary, then Citizen's Assemblies across Auckland would need to sanction the proposed increase."

"We need a system that is fair to everyone" says Ms West. "We do not propose a flat rate system, or a user charges system ­ which financially harms low-middle income earners and families. Council rates need to come under the Government and local body microscope. Government must take responsibility in the matter, as taxpayers are paying more than once for assets and services - this is a job of the Local Government MP after all."

ENDS

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