Auckland Council won’t even consult on a rates freeze

The Herald reports:

Auckland Council is backing off the idea of a 3.5 per cent by asking ratepayers if they want to go with that figure or a 2.5 per cent rates rise from July 1.

The decision follows a marathon 10-hour meeting of council’s emergency committee yesterday at which councillors also agreed to waive the bed tax on the struggling hotel and accommodation sector for three months.

Ratepayers experiencing financial hardship from the impact of Covid-19 will also be given the opportunity to defer payment of the fourth and final rates instalment this year.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett said more than 80 per cent of businesses responding to a survey gave the thumbs down to a planned 3.5 per cent rates rise.

“Businesses have no income, ballooning debt and ongoing costs from paying employees and trying to keep them on the payroll to rental and tax obligations,” he said.

What part of ratepayers can’t afford a rates increase, can’t the Council understand?

Why is the Council too scared to consult on a rates freeze? Is it because they know the feedback would be overwhelmingly in favour of it?

Mayor Phil Goff said councillors were unanimous the council needed to take decisive steps to reduce the pressure on residents and businesses facing economic hardship, while ensuring it could protect and maintain the essential services.

“I think Aucklanders want their council to understand the hardships that some people will be facing and show compassion and flexibility around that. There will be a range of measures to target support through deferral and postponement of rates for those facing genuine hardship and unable to pay their rates in the current circumstances.”

Compassion isn’t sticking rates up 2.5% and deferring payments (which just means you pay even more later). Compassion is living within your means.

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