26 Jun 2015

Skyrocketing rates could force elderly out

8:37 pm on 26 June 2015

An advocacy group for the elderly says Auckland could face grey flight as older residents balk at skyrocketing rates.

Len Brown at the Auckland Council meeting on Thursday 25 June.

Mayor Len Brown at yesterday's Auckland Council meeting. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Auckland Council yesterday passed by a single vote a 10-year budget that includes a $114 annual transport levy on households. The charge boosts the average residential rates rise to 9.9 percent.

Some areas would pay far more than that due to the increase in some property valuations. The Mangere/Otahuhu board area, for example, would see an increase of 16 percent.

Greypower for Counties Manukau head John Ballantyne said there had to be another way for the council to get the funds it needed.

He said elderly people would find they could not live in Auckland anymore and would have to find somewhere else to live where their pension payments went further.

"We feel like it's a kick in the guts, sort of thing. And it's going to effect elderly people pretty bad as far as I am concerned."

Levy will improve roads - Auckland mayor

Auckland mayor Len Brown is adamant a contentious new transport levy on ratepayers will see less congestion on the roads - but not in the short-term.

Opponents of the transport charge argued it disproportionately hit poorer households, and was not clearly spelt out to the public during consultation.

Mr Brown told Morning Report the levy would provide a $523 million transport package over three years.

He said it would bring less congested roads, but Aucklanders "aren't stupid" and understand such changes "are going to take a while".

In a compromise proposal during yesterday's five-hour debate, Mr Brown agreed the level and structure of the rate would be reviewed over the year, along with other ways to fund transport projects.

Council staff advised councillors against making changes to the levy at yesterday's meeting, saying it was just five days before the start of the new financial year.

The transport rate will be used to fund a longer list of transport projects than otherwise could be afforded.

Campaign for Better Transport convenor Cameron Pitches says there were other options on the table to fund transport projects, including a fuel tax and motorway charges, but the government moved to stop either of those happening, so the council is stuck trying to find the money.

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