Far sighted planning has kept cap on rates rises
8 August 2006
Far sighted planning in the past has kept cap on rates rises
Manukau Mayor Sir Barry Curtis says sensible and prudent long-term planning by the council over many years has allowed rates rises to be kept low, while providing the vital infrastructure the fast growing city needs.
“Good planning and good thinking has put us in a very strong position where we do not have to play catch-up, unlike some other cities where there has been under-investment for a long time.”
Manukau’s average residential rate rise of 5.9% is the lowest among city councils in the Auckland region and over the next decade it is anticipated there will be small rises above inflation each year. In ten years’ time Manukau’s average residential rate is expected to be $2352, while Auckland City’s will be $3705 and the predicted national average $3093, according to figures released by Local Government NZ.
Manukau is the fastest growing city in the country (10,000 pop. increase per year) and for many years the council has invested in large land purchases and infrastructure in anticipation of future growth. Sir Barry says as a result Manukau has superb community facilities and infrastructure.
The council has used statutory reserve and other financial contributions to pay for much of the city’s infrastructure, including parks, roading upgrades, major water and drainage lines, for decades.
“The large parcel of land which is to become Barry Curtis Park, in the heart of Flat Bush, is a good example. We bought it early in the planning stages of the Flat Bush development, and it’s been a fantastic investment.” The 214 acre park will be integrated into the emerging Flat Bush Town Centre. It will be the primary open space parkland for the 40,000 residents who will be living in the area within five or so years.
Over the next decade Flat Bush will be the major population growth area in the city, and in the Auckland region.
Sir Barry says, “I am proud of what we have achieved for residents of the city. If we had neglected to think ahead we would be struggling to keep our rates rises low because there would be so much pressure to pay for costly infrastructure and high quality community services now.
“Our decision not to sell our airport shares was also, I believe, a wise move. Our 120 million shares have increased significantly in value and provide a substantial addition to the council’s income.”
Manukau’s rating system changed recently and Sir Barry says that has helped remove some of the highs and lows in residential rates. “It has made the system more equitable and this year 85% of ratepayers will be paying within a range of $200 plus or minus last year’s rate.”