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Investment in the city with low rates increase

Auckland City Council
Media release

19 June 2008

Continued investment in the city with low rates increase

Auckland City Council finalised plans today to invest $400 million in capital works across the city over the next year, its second biggest capital expenditure programme in a single year.

Councillor Douglas Armstrong, chairperson of the Finance and Strategy Committee said, “We are very happy to be able to make this level of investment to move the city forward while keeping our commitment that the overall rates increase will be capped at the level of council’s inflation.”

Investment will be made in key areas such as making it easier to get around the city by improving public transport infrastructure and footpaths, making the city a better place to spend time in by investing money in graffiti vandalism removal and street cleaning, and looking after our future by improving rubbish and recycling services.

The council’s inflation is 5.1 per cent for the coming year.

The 5.1 per cent rates increase is a change from the 10.2 per cent rates increase forecasted for the 2008/2009 finance year in the council’s 10-year plan in 2006.

The increase will mean an overall increase of $78 for most residential ratepayers.

In addition to deferring some projects that were planned in the 10-year plan, the council saved $19.5 million through finding operational efficiencies last year, allowing it to provide this extra investment within the 5.1 per cent overall rates increase.

“We had to make some tough decisions about which projects are essential to do immediately, and which can be deferred,” said Mr Armstrong.

“It is important to remember that the deferred projects have not been cancelled. Many have been pushed out a year or two to enable the city to move forward in a way that is most cost-effective for ratepayers,” said Mr Armstrong.

Rates increases

1. The rates increases for residential properties outside the CBD will include a uniform charge of $162 and a separate rate for rubbish and recycling of $210 making an overall increase of $78.

2. The valuation-based general rate for residential properties outside the CBD will remain at the same level as they were last year.

3. The CBD residential targeted rate will increase by $3 to $55.

4. The five targeted rates introduced in 2005 will be consolidated into the general rate which will generate fewer transactions and be more efficient.


“One rate is clearer for people to understand, and it is also more cost effective for the council to manage,” says Mr Armstrong.

The targeted rate for rubbish and recycling, CBD properties and mainstreets would continue to be shown separately on rates bills.


Metrowater

Water price increases will be capped to the level of council’s inflation for the next three years.

“We know people are concerned about the rising price of water and we have made sure that people can now have certainty that their water bills aren’t going to skyrocket over the next three years,” said Mr Armstrong

“We will remove the annual payments the council receives from Metrowater over time in a way that balances water affordability and the need to minimise the impact on ratepayers of reduced annual payments

“Removing the payments in one fell swoop would have had a negative impact on ratepayers as it would have require an extra 6.6 per cent increase in overall rates requirement for the 2009 to 2010 year.”


Investment in the city

The $400 million of continued investment across the city will:

• improve bus travel times and connections with other public transport services between the CBD and Newmarket thanks to bus lanes installed as part of the Central Connector project

• improve public transport, walking and cycling choices, and upgrade local roads in the east of the city over the next 15 years as part of the Auckland-Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative

• enable the public to enjoy the CBD waterfront by opening up access to the water’s edge and transforming Wynyard Quarter to include parks, plazas, shops, cafes, offices and apartments

• provide 50 per cent more space for exhibitions by enlarging and restoring the Auckland Art Gallery

• increase public safety and enjoyment of our streets by continuing to upgrade footpaths across the city

• help transform the CBD through the upgrade of St Patrick’s Square and Beach Road.

Recycling will become easier for Auckland city residents in July when new and enhanced recycling services start. New 240-litre bins, designed to hold all recyclable household waste, will be collected fortnightly.

The council is increasing the budget for keeping they city’s 50 most prominent public toilets clean by $250,000 and giving an extra $200,000 every year towards improving enforcement of graffiti vandalism.

Investment in major events will also increase. The council produces over 60 free events and sponsors over 30 major events each year.


ENDS

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