Casey rethinking support of rates rise
Albert-Eden households can expect an almost 15 per cent increase in their rates bill, which will include the interim transport levy.
For Margaret Bijl the increase in rates will make it tougher to afford living in her Mt Eden home.
‘‘It doesn’t take into account the number of people living in the building,’’ Bijl says.
‘‘I live alone and my usage of Auckland city amenities is probably very minuscule.’’
Bijl, who moved from Christchurch to retire in Auckland, says increasing rates won’t make the city’s transport and housing problems go away overnight.
‘‘I sympathise with the council’s dilemma of how to manage this problem but they have been lumbered with something that the Government is also responsible for,’’ she says.
‘‘Instead of the Government being so heavy-handed they need to be working in cooperation and coming up with sensible solutions that will require money.’’
One Mt Albert homeowner, who asked to be known only as Graeme, says the Government should be paying for a solution.
‘‘I don’t have a problem with the transport levy but I think it’s too much in one hit,’’ he says. ‘‘I think the [council] has a remoteness and doesn’t appreciate what a 9.9 per cent or 14.9 per cent rate rise means on a day-to-day basis.’’
McCoy D’Silva, 31, rents in Mt Albert and says a rates rise is only justifiable if people are also earning more. ‘‘It depends if there’s an hourly increase in pay, if not, then it’s not fair. But it’s good that the council wants to do things.’’
Auckland councillor Cathy Casey says she is rethinking her vote in support of the transport levy. Casey says she is nervous after seeing councillor Mike Lee’s calculations on the increasing levels of operational costs for commuter rail.
According to Lee, the council’s transport committee chairman, Auckland trains are costing four times more to run than in Wellington.
Lee calculated from rail operation figures that the subsidy for each passenger per kilometre travelled on Auckland trains was 65c, in comparison with 16c for Wellington.
The Auckland commuter rail operation has a major cost problem as well as a significant revenue loss problem, Lee concluded in a report presented to the budget committee.
Casey says it’s not clear why there is a disparity in operational figures and whether it justified and affordable.
She says the Auckland public deserves to know how their money is being spent.
‘‘In light of the levy we have voted to support, we are owed to know each penny has been accounted for.’’
The council’s budget committee has asked chief executive Stephen Town to work with Auckland Transport to report back on the costings and options for potential cost savings.
‘‘I’m getting really nervous and I will only be satisfied if Auckland Transport say yes to councillor Lee’s inquiry into the price Casey says.
The purpose of the transport levy is to raise $500 million for transport developments over the next three years. Casey says supporting the levy was a hard decision but the council needed to start addressing Auckland’s transport problems.
Mt Eden homeowner Margaret Bijl says increasing rates won’t making the city’s transport and housing problems go away overnight.
Councillor Cathy Casey