What is going to happen to our rates this year? Mayor Goff is planning to increase the rates by 6.2 per cent and, on top of that, add a regional fuel tax. This will have the overall effect on our wallets of an almost an 7 per cent increase by Auckland Council. The breakdown is as follows:
• A general rate increase of 2.5 per cent
• A new targeted rate to improve CBD stormwater pipes of 2.8 per cent
• An additional targeted rate to fight kauri dieback of 0.9 per cent
• A regional fuel tax costing motorists about $125 per annum extra. This
will replace the $114 per annum transport tax currently on our rates bill. The
difference is equivalent to a 0.5 per cent rates increase.
Council’s spin doctors are now working hard to convince us Mr Goff is keeping his election promise to keep rate hikes at less than 2.5 per cent, but no one will be falling for it when they open next year’s rates bill.
Furthermore, the Mayor is not planning to spend any of the new taxes taken from Rodney on projects in Rodney. The impact on Rodney is utterly unfair. I am continuously challenging the Mayor about the fairness of this decision. His answer is consistently the same: “It has nothing to do with fairness, it’s all about achieving Auckland’s priorities.”
At a minimum, there should be a fair balance of the regional fuel tax being spent back on Rodney projects. To assist the people of Rodney, I put forward an argument to amend the Mayor’s proposed rates increases. The amendment sought to allow the public of Auckland to have formal hearings, directly with the Mayor and the Councillors, to express their democratic voice and any concerns. It was voted down, by 10 votes to nine.
Because in the north we pay a motorway toll and Council does not provide a public transport alternative, combined with fact that Rodney is not getting any of the money back, I asked for Rodney to be excluded from the regional fuel tax. This was also lost.
Phil Goff’s counter is that the transport levy of $114 per year, which is 4.8 per cent of the average rates bill, will be deducted from the planned 6.2 per cent rate increase. So, 6.2 per cent minus 4.8 per cent equals only a 1.4 per cent rate increase.
This is sneaky as it completely excludes the 5.3 per cent impact on our wallets of the regional fuel tax. So, the “wallet test” is the 1.4 per cent plus another 5.3 per cent, which equals 6.7 per cent.
While road sealing and maintenance, footpaths, public toilets and bus services remain underfunded, our near 7 per cent increase will be used to prop up the CBD because of the continued inner-city focus of the second Mayor of Auckland.
Len Brown would be delighted.
Greg Sayers, Rodney Councillor