9 May 2013

Auckland Council approves rates rise

9:46 pm on 9 May 2013

Auckland councillors have voted to increase rates by an average of 2.9%.

The rise is the lowest in the council's three-year history, but many residents will pay much more.

About one-third of ratepayers face increases of between 5% and 10%, as some big changes introduced when the super-city was first formed are phased in over several years.

The council's budget had been tweaked following public consultation, with savings as well as new spending including more money for community events.

Auckland mayor Len Brown earlier described the rates increase as less than half the average for the region in the years prior to amalgamation.

The proposal to approve the budget, including the rates rise, attracted no debate on Thursday and councillors voted in favour about 5pm.

Mr Brown said the increase shows strong, clear prudence while continuing to improve Auckland, and is the lowest since the super-city was established.

Some community representatives said rate increases are already too high in some areas.

Strategy and finance committee chair Penny Webster said the rating system is a blunt instrument and not perfect, and some parts of the region would get a rates cut.

However, Orakei local board chair Desley Simpson said the same few areas get targeted every year.

There was argument over whether community groups could speak to the budget. Ms Webster rejected the request, saying they had already had their say on the annual plan during the submission period.