The Mapp Report: Best foot forward in rates debate
The Mapp Report
Putting best foot forward in the Rates Debate
Rates have been a serious issue in the North Shore, and indeed Auckland, for some time now. It is essential to get public feedback to find a real solution.
On Wednesday I held a public meeting on Rates in Milford with Northcote MP Jonathan Coleman and National local government spokesman John Carter. The meeting was designed to allow people in our community to have a voice and for the National Party to get public input to take back to Parliament.
Labour uses stalling tactics again
This meeting came about after months of inaction. An Independent Inquiry into local body Rates was promised by Labour last month on August 23. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), the Inquiry is no further towards commencing than it was when it hit headlines. Labours stalling tactics have been adopted to divert frustration about the issue in the hope festering feelings of resentment by ratepayers will subside.
The Inquiry (or lack thereof) comes after a long battle for Rodney Hides members Bill to cap rates increases, which was eventually lost after New Zealand First voted against it.
The Bill would have controlled local government spending. It would have made councils listen to the community they are there to serve.
For some years I have operated an informal rule. If council rates stay below 5% I wont make a fuss. Rates should not exceed 2.5% inflation and 2.5% economic growth combined. This is a robust formula and gives reasonable scope to improve services as the economy grows.
The situation so far
The rate growth in New Zealand between 2000 and 2006 was 44.9%, which far exceeds inflation, which was 17.8%. North Shore residents faced an average rate increase of 8.2% this year, although many face considerably more. This Rate tax is effectively a wealth tax divorced from peoples ability to pay it.
Instead of a light at the end of the tunnel taxpayers in the North Shore face an average residential rate growth of 116% over the next ten years. This is staggeringly high. The community is staring at the beginning of a snowball effect in Rates. We need to find solutions or watch residents and businesses flee North Shore for a more feasible cost of living elsewhere.
Local governments feels the strain
The Labour government has shifted responsibility for communities from central government to local government. They then passed 67 pieces of legislation and left local government with the task of enforcing them with no additional funding. This is an added cost to your Rates.
When the National Party becomes government we will make sure that when legislation is passed that local government receives funding to administer these changes. More importantly we will reduce the flow of legislation that is pushing up costs.
Local government has to follow the same message as central government. It simply cannot keep taking an ever-increasing share of the national cake. In 2006 that share was 3.06% of GDP. Today it is 3.29% of GDP. A rate cap would keep the North Shore constant, to the benefit of everyone; residents, businesses and anyone who believes they can spend their own money better than the government. And surely that is most of us.
Putting North Shore on the map
North Harbour Rugby has given more positive publicity for North Shore in one week than all previous campaigns combined. The success of the team in winning the Ranfurly Shield was celebrated across the Shore yesterday. What a tremendous Shore spirit. We all owe a huge debt to the team and North Harbour Rugby.
Who would now suggest we should just abandon our North Shore identity to be submerged into a Supercity controlled from the other side of the Bridge. Twenty years ago North Harbour Rugby was born. Rugby administration knew there was a unique Shore identity back then, and it has just got stronger. No one is going to take it away from us.
Well done to the team. You have done us all proud.
October 7 2006
Mairangi Arts Centre
20 Hastings Road
North Shore MP Wayne Mapp will be available to address any questions or concerns from members of the public. No appointment is necessary.
Phone 486 0005 or email office[at]waynemapp.co.nz for more information..
29 September 2006
Dr Wayne Mapp
Visit my website for more information at: www.waynemapp.co.nz