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Council rates increase well below forecast


North Shore City Media release

Council rates increase well below forecast

June 30, 2008

The North Shore City Council has adopted the 2008-09 Annual Plan with a rates rise of 5.9* per cent which is significantly below the 8.4 per cent forecast in the ten year City Plan.

Mayor Andrew Williams says the council has worked hard to contain the rates increase, while still aiming to deliver on important capital and community programmes.

“This council is and will continue to be committed to much smarter spending of public money and the ratepayer dollar,” said Mayor Williams.

The average residential rate in the 2007-08 financial year was $1,711 and the average for the 2008-09 year will be $1,813.

Mayor Williams says rates rises have been contained partly as a result of debt repayment changes, which provide more equitable funding of infrastructure for present and future generations.

“Rates containment was also a result of the adoption of some of the resolutions of the Shand inquiry into rates, which included aligning the life of an asset with the repayment of assets,” says Mayor Williams.

Capital expenditure programmes in the Annual Plan total $200 million. Of that, $161 million is for new capital programmes in areas such as transport, wastewater, parks, beaches and stormwater and $39 million is for renewal capital expenditure.

Mayor Williams says the main focus for the 2008-09 year is better transport, beach water quality, improving parks and beaches and increased focus on social responsibility.

“Wastewater improvements are the target of the biggest capital project, at a cost of $73 million. Of that $60 million will go towards the new Rosedale tunnel and marine outfall project, which will discharge high quality treated effluent from the treatment plant, 2.8km out to sea into the Rangitoto Channel and provide capacity for the next 100 years.”

Mayor Williams says the Rosedale project is vitally important to cope with the North Shore’s growing population. It must be completed by 2010 to comply with the project’s resource consent.

* includes MOTAT and Auckland museum levies.

Transport improvements have been allocated $44 million for upgrading public transport including ongoing improvements, bus lanes and intersections to connect to the Northern Busway.

Capital expenditure has also been earmarked for parks, beaches and sportsfields ($21 million) as well as library services ($8 million), and improvements to the stormwater system ($6 million).

Mayor Williams says the $8 million change in new capital expenditure from that outlined in the City Plan is mainly due to:
 the ability to deliver on the timing of the Birkenhead Library project
 some wastewater project work which has been brought forward to accelerate the delivery of a few key projects
 increased costs for the tunnel and outfall project
 budget provision of $1.7m for an animal shelter which was not provided for in the City Plan.
These are offset by the deferral of some transport projects.

Council received 280 submissions and 89 oral submissions as part of the Annual Plan consultation process.

In addition Mayor Williams has campaigned to increase funding for community boards by transferring $10,000 per board so that they can umbrella community events and activities in each of their board areas.

“The increase to Community Boards is part of an ongoing review of delegations to the boards in the coming months which will see much more of the “local” in local government, says Mayor Williams.

The mayor has also seen through the exemption from payment of development levies for state integrated schools.

“I have been working for some time to ensure that schools such as Carmel College are not faced with development levies simply because they are classified as “state integrated” schools, he says.

“We’re also aiming to offset part of the development levies charged to community groups through a fund of $100,000. We have also increased community grants funding by 10 per cent, which adds $170,000 to projects being run by community groups in our city.

“We wanted to recognise the crucial work that community groups contribute to the fabric of the North Shore through their various programmes,” says Mayor Williams.

The mayor says a focus will remain on eliminating superfluous spending.
“We don’t want to see spending proposals such as a $465,000 footbridge on Esmonde Road which was to be built just metres from an adequate bridge that achieved the same purpose.

“We will continue to closely scrutinise operational and capital expenditure across all council areas to ensure that delivery is at the most optimum level,” says Mayor Williams.

Later this year the council will be undertaking further community engagement as it progresses through reviewing the ten-year City Plan.

Rates will be payable in six instalments, the first being 12 August, 2008.

ENDS

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