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ARC's rates hike dumped on, but rating base backed

ARC's rates hike dumped on, but rating base backed

Lifting Auckland Regional Council's rates by 34 per cent in the one year to over $104 million will stretch business and public tolerance to breaking point, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) told the ARC when presenting its submission on the ARC Draft Annual Plan today.

The EMA said because the ARC is picking up big public transport costs it needs to cut other planned spending such as the upgrade of the Botanic Garden Visitor Centre.

"Nonetheless we applaud the way that the ARC has discharged its obligations under the Local Government Act 2002 to adopt the required Revenue and Financing Policy," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"ARC has carried out its obligations the best of all the local body plans and policies we have analysed," Mr Thompson said.

The association also commended the Council for its decision to base its rating policy on capital value.

"EMA is a strong supporter of the ARC decision to rate on capital, not land value, and not to apply a differential rate requiring business property owners to subsidise residential rates.

"But while we back ARC's rating policy on capital value we're disappointed it is not applying uniform annual charges.

"An area where a Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC) is fully justified would be to cover the $12.6 million cost of "regional direction' including the responsibility for democratic processes.

"A Uniform Annual Charge (UAC) should be applied to public transport so that its costs can be identified separately.

"Charges like these should legitimately be the same for all ratepayers since all ratepayers have equal access to the benefits they provide.

"Compounding the extent of the ARC rates bill for public transport, the plan does not provide enough comparative information to allow informed consultation with the public.

"Neither was it necessary for ratepayers to become trains owners, and in any event, ownership of the refurbished trains should have been kept separate from the funding of them.

"EMA has been analysing the Draft Annual Plans and other public documents of every major council north of Taupo for the last four years and applies a consistent view on rating policy across all local bodies."

NB: EMA members in the ARC area exceed 4035 businesses and other organisations employing 170,000 staff and with a combined payroll of $6.6 billion.

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