Auckland rates

Bernard Orsman at the Herald reports:

The is divided on a proposal by Mayor to set a maximum rates increase of 4.9 per cent next year.

Mr Brown narrowly won backing for his plan yesterday after a rebellion by eight councillors who voted for a maximum increase of 3.9 per cent proposed by the right-wing Citizens & Ratepayers group.

In his first major test as mayor, Mr Brown pleaded with councillors not “to be divided on this issue”, but could only muster 10 votes, including his own vote, to pass the plan.

Can’t get much of a closer divide than 10-8. Who were the three Crs who did not vote on such an important issues?

The 4.9 per cent target is a stretch of Mr Brown’s election promise to keep rates low and near the rate of inflation. It is nearly 50 per cent above the forecast rate of inflation of 3.4 per cent.

Stretch is the polite term for it.

Mr Brown, whose job as mayor is to deliver the budget, argued at yesterday’s strategy and finance committee that the maximum rate of 4.9 per cent was a responsible target and would work for a final figure of mid- to high-3 per cent. The final figure would “go down from here, not up”, he said.

That would be better, but will they manage even that?

The high-level committee meeting went off the rails when three former Auckland City councillors, Cathy Casey, Richard Northey and Leila Boyle, who is now chairwoman of the Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board, tried to relitigate a number of old issues, including the relocation of Monte Cecilia School and an elephant herd at Auckland Zoo, to the fury of other councillors.

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse said the meeting needed to be really clear about what it was doing, while Ann Hartley was fuming at the parochial behaviour of her left-wing colleagues.

Obviously they felt the rates increase should be even more than 4.9%!

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