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Councils Should Focus On Core Services Instead Of Hiking Rates

“The projected $270m budget hole in Auckland Council’s finances show why a focus on core services and ACT’s GST-sharing policy are essential for ratepayers,” says ACT’s Local Government spokesperson Simon Court.

“As an Auckland ratepayer myself, I can safely say that all we want from our council is for the basics to be done right. Roads we can get from A to B on, pipes that can stand up to the strain of the city, and infrastructure that is fit for the expected one million increase in the city’s population by 2050.

“Instead of massive rates rises, one solution the council should consider is selling its shares in the Auckland Airport, it would be doing both itself and the airport a favour in the process. Anyone who has flown in or out of Auckland recently can see the airport needs investment, but its major shareholder Auckland Council is broke and unable to provide any investment without jacking up rates to pay for it.

“Auckland Council should be shedding these responsibilities that can be better managed privately. The profits from selling shares can help pay for infrastructure like City Rail Link and delayed infrastructure projects.

“The alternative is higher rates for Aucklanders who are already struggling with a cost of living crisis. Loading up double digit rate rises at a time like this is unnecessary and unfair.

“ACT’s GST-Sharing policy would also help pay for infrastructure by giving councils half of the GST on new developments. My colleague Brooke van Velden currently has a Member’s Bill before Parliament on this.

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“The policy is estimated to deliver $1 billion every year to support local development enabling infrastructure, but councils that consent more, get more.

“Ratepayers are jaded by years of watching rates increase while councils focus on flights of fancy like reducing speed limits and development charges still increase. That’s why there was such a shift to the right in the recent local elections.

“Before thinking about increasing rates, new councils need to look at what efficiencies they can make and spending they can save so that they can deliver the core services. This is what ratepayers want and deserve.”

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