Goff faces huge struggle to keep rate rise promise
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is facing a huge battle to keep his most important election promise — to hold rates at 2.5 per cent.
Some nasty surprises could be in store for Aucklanders as the former Labour MP begins his second year with no spare cash to fund traffic chaos, the city’s housing crisis and polluted harbours.
In a year one review for the Weekend Herald, Goff says the soft option of taking on more debt to pay for infrastructure i s over and without Government aid he could not rule out higher rates increases.
“I am going to fight to hold rates at 2.5 per cent but that will be a huge battle,” said Goff, who kept rate rises at 2.5 per cent in his first budget.
To free up some cash when council is right up against its debt ceiling, Goff has officers drawing up plans in a new 10- year budget for a targeted rate to improve water quality.
This would work by taking the $ 1 billion central interceptor — a new giant pipeline between Western Springs and the Mangere waste treatment plan — and other water projects off the council books and paying for it with a targeted rate.
Goff has not said which ratepayers will pay the targeted rate and how much it will be, but it could be in the region of 5 per cent on top of the general rates rise.
New house revaluations due out shortly will also skew rates. Homeowners, whose house valuation i s above the city average, will get a rates increase. Homeowners with a house valuation below the average will pay lower rates.
The finances are so tight at Auckland Council, officers have been given approval to look at charging children to play sport at local parks to keep up with the demand for sporting facilities, although Goff ’ s political antennae suggests it’s a no- goer.