RNZ: Zero Rates An Important Option

Todd Niall from RNZ has reminded everyone ¬†while covering another candidate’s policy release that I was the first Auckland Mayoral candidate to outline initial budget policies. I reiterated a key part of this today.

Auckland Mayoral candidate Mark Thomas has reiterated that an Auckland Council he leads will give Aucklanders the option of freezing rates in his first budget.

This was part of his initial Affordability and Growth policy outline released last month.

“Too many Aucklanders have had six years of significant rates increases culminating in the current 9.9% average increase for residential ratepayers.”

Thomas said they deserve an option to take a break.

In his affordability and growth policies, Thomas will give ratepayers the option to choose a zero percent rates increase.

“I will direct the CEO to find $35M in savings to achieve this in my first budget for the 2016/17 year. The savings will come principally from the $422M governance budget, although there will also be support cost savings in the $194M community services budget and the $191M economic and cultural development budget.”

He will also reorganise the council budget into six regional areas comprising rural, the north, west, centre, east and south. He will give Aucklanders the option to “vote” for a zero rates increase but also for a growth rates options of an average of 2% or 4%.

“By targeting the rates options to specific regional areas, ratepayers will be able to see more clearly what they get for it, and make a more informed choice over whether to support a rates increase or not.”

Additionally, Thomas will start to reprioritise the $200M of consultants costs Auckland Council pays for annually. His aim is to save $100M over three years and invest the balance into top Local Board priorities.

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