Public meet­ing protests planned rates rise

Central Leader - - NEWS - By ELE­SHA ED­MONDS

Riled res­i­dents have met to voice their con­cerns over rates hikes.

Around 60 peo­ple filled Auck­land’s Mt Eden Me­mo­rial Hall on June 10 to hear from a panel of politi­cians about how ratepay­ers can take a stand against the rates plan.

The public meet­ing was called af­ter Auck­land Coun­cil last month voted in favour of an av­er­age 9.9 per cent in­crease in rates bills. In­cluded is a pro­posed trans­port levy of $114 a year in­clud­ing GST.

Orakei coun­cil­lor Cameron Brewer told the meet­ing that the coun­cil should be look­ing in its own cof­fers to fund an ex­tra $60 mil­lion in trans­port in­fra­struc­ture. He said the coun­cil should fol­low the lead of Fon­terra which is lay­ing off staff to cope with de­clin­ing milk prices.

‘‘They are go­ing to make some cuts that cause some pain within head of­fice and that’s what we need to do,’’ he said. ‘‘In com­par­i­son we just keep stick­ing it to the ratepayer.’’

At least 80 per cent of peo­ple said in sub­mis­sions to the coun­cil that they do not want rate rises at more than 3.5 per cent, Brewer said at the meet­ing.

The panel in­cluded MPs from Na­tional, ACT, United Fu­ture and the Maori Party.

ACT leader David Seymour said the coun­cil is tack­ling in­fra­struc­ture deficits that have built up for decades.

‘‘I think when we ac­knowl­edge the pain and the suf­fer­ing this rate rise is caus­ing for peo­ple we also have to give the coun­cil a fair hear­ing in a few ways.’’

The coun­cil needs to fo­cus on de­liv­er­ing ser­vices rather than try­ing to cre­ate a city state within a coun­try, Seymour said.

‘‘We have got a mayor in Los An­ge­les tonight try­ing to be a global deal maker with a bunch of busi­ness­men,’’ he said. ‘‘Is that re­ally the lo­cal role of gov­ern­ment in New Zealand?’’

Auck­land mayor Len Brown is on a coun­cil-led busi­ness del­e­ga­tion to the United States this month.

Meet­ing or­gan­iser Dick Cuth­bert said there were plans for fur­ther meet­ings and a street march.

‘‘A par­tial rate re­volt is one of the sug­ges­tions I’ve heard,’’ he said.

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