Goff faces huge strug­gle to keep rate rise prom­ise

Weekend Herald - - NEWS -

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.

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