Belt-tight­en­ing will fol­low rates rises

Auckland City Harbour News - - OPINION -

There’s a new an­nual rit­ual in my money life: Trim­ming the house­hold bud­get to ab­sorb another grotesque Auck­land Coun­cil rates rise.

For those who read this col­umn around the rest of the coun­try, the spec­ta­cle of Auck­land Coun­cil’s rates ra­pac­ity must make them shake their heads in dis­be­lief, though it is not the only coun­cil shock­ing its house­hold­ers with rates hikes.

Pity those poor Auck­lan­ders. Ex­pen­sive hous­ing, end­less grid­lock and last week an av­er­age 9.9 per cent residential rates rise.

And on top of it all, they voted in their in­creas­ingly an­gry-sound­ing mayor on prom­ises of rea­son­able rates rises.

Many house­hold­ers, like me (es­pe­cially those of us who doubt our city’s CBD-fo­cused strat­egy), would con­sider a 9.9 per cent rates rise as hav­ing dodged a bullet.

The av­er­age in my ward is over 14 per cent.

Auck­lan­ders’ rates rises are on top of big rises last year and the year be­fore that.

Last year, I was so an­gry, I re­belled. I didn’t go on a rates strike be­cause that would have been illegal. In­stead, I gave up snack­ing. I reck­oned I was blow­ing $10 to $15 a week on snacks. So I stopped.

Bad luck to the dairy near work but I was de­ter­mined that the coun­cil wasn’t go­ing to slow the rate at which I pros­pered.

I’ve got a big­ger task ahead of me this year.

In a few weeks, my next rates rise no­tice will come. It won’t be less than $500. Ob­vi­ously, peo­ple’s wages can’t keep up with rises like that.

The coun­cil is lit­er­ally strip­ping out a greater and greater pro­por­tion of house­hold in­comes each year. So what will I give up this year? Beer? Un­re­al­is­tic, I’m afraid, though I reckon I spend a grand or so on beer a year. It’s easily done. A six-pack of Macs each week will set you back about $750 at su­per­mar­ket prices on its own.

We could cut back on the in­sur­ance. It’s time I shopped around to see if I can trim that bill.

Books. That’s a good place to save. I like to sup­port my lo­cal bookshop, Time Out in Mt Eden. I may have to cur­tail that.

I don’t drink cafe cof­fee so no sav­ings to be made there.

I cy­cle to work and our house­hold only runs one car so there are no more sav­ings to be had on that front.

We could stop mak­ing vol­un­tary school do­na­tions. Re­al­is­ti­cally, even though I know oth­ers who can af­ford to pay don’t, we still will.

All over the city house­holds will have to trim. Those squeak­ing by on low in­comes and NZ Su­per will strug­gle.

Some peo­ple will cut their Ki­wiSaver con­tri­bu­tions, some their snack­ing. Some will eat out less, some buy more su­per­mar­ket home branded food. Some will make their clothes last longer, some their shoes. Some will turn down the heat­ing, some skip the den­tist for another year.

Auck­land Coun­cil’s 10-year plan says its rates take is go­ing to in­crease from $1.57 bil­lion in 2015/16 to $2.38b in 2024/25. The march of the rates rises will con­tinue, though ex­actly what next year’s rates rises will be will not be known un­til mid-July.

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