Rates rise for rugby cup

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Janie Smith

LOVE rugby or loathe it, all Auck­land city ratepay­ers could be shelling out for the Rugby World Cup.

Un­der its re­cently ap­proved 10-year plan, the Auck­land City Coun­cil will in­tro­duce two new tar­geted rates, one to help fund op­er­at­ing costs for the 2011 event and the other to help pay for the re­de­vel­op­ment of Queens Wharf, de­scribed by Prime Min­is­ter John Key as “party cen­tral” for the six-week tour­na­ment.

The world cup rate will run for one year, from July 1, 2011, un­til June 30, 2012 and on av­er­age will mean an ex­tra $23 for res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties on top of the av­er­age two-per­cent rates in­crease.

The Queens Wharf rate will also start in 2011, at an av­er­age cost of about $36 per res­i­den­tial prop­erty, but it doesn’t have an end date be­cause the coun­cil will need to main­tain what­ever is built there.

Coun­cil fi­nance and strat­egy com­mit­tee chair­man Doug Arm­strong says the rates will be ad­min­is­tered by the new Auck­land Coun­cil and have only been “fore­shad­owed” in the 10-year plan.

“Th­ese are two things that have come over the hill later in the piece. The world cup will have huge ben­e­fits for the city.”

He says the de­ci­sion was made to levy the world cup charges as a tar­geted rate to in­di­cate it is a one-off spe­cial event.

Al­though Queens Wharf is an on­go­ing rate, he says de­pend­ing on how the fund­ing is put to­gether, it may not have to go on for­ever.

“We have to do a 10-year plan so we have done it to the best of our abil­i­ties. In gen­eral terms, we’ve held rates in­creases to un­der the rate of inflation, which was no mean feat.”

Coun­cil­lor Richard Northey says City Vi­sion coun­cil­lors were to­tally op­posed to the world cup rate.

“We thought it was quite un­fair for it to be a tar­geted rate and for peo­ple who live in Otahuhu and Great Bar­rier to have to pay for part of the Rugby World Cup.

“We thought it was fair enough to ap­ply it to peo­ple who pro­vide hos­pi­tal­ity and ac­com­mo­da­tion be­cause they get some ben­e­fits out of it.”

He says the bud­get for events as­so­ci­ated with the event should be cut back.

Mr Northey also be­lieves spending on the Queens Wharf de­vel­op­ment needs to be slowed down to en­sure the best legacy of build­ings and fa­cil­i­ties are built on the site.

“It’s re­ally im­por­tant to make the most of it so peo­ple re­ally feel it’s part of their space and they want to go there.

“I ac­cept there will need to be some spending above the rate of inflation. It’s such a jewel for the pub­lic.”

The coun­cil has al­ready in­vested about $9 mil­lion in trans­port and in­fra­struc­ture up­grades around Eden Park and on up­grad­ing pub­lic spa­ces and sports and recre­ation venues ahead of the world cup.

A fur­ther $22m will be in­vested dur­ing the pe­riod of the 10-year plan to pro­vide im­proved fa­cil­i­ties, with $8m com­ing from other par­ties.

The coun­cil has al­lo­cated about $29m to op­er­a­tional costs, $4m of which will be from spon­sors.

The Queens Wharf de­vel­op­ment, which may also in­clude a cruise ship ter­mi­nal, is bud­geted at $84m and is part of a $275m in­vest­ment in the water­front over 10 years.

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