Rates rise for rugby cup
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.