A 12.6 per cent rates hike will hit our residents too hard

Straight from city council
A personal view,
by Councillor Steve Morris

That often-repeated myth that Tauranga’s homeowners pay ‘low’ rates was finally put to bed last week. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop a proposal to increase total rates by 12.6 per cent; even if this only passed by six votes to five.

Figures revealed at last week’s meeting show Tauranga’s average residential rates are higher than Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. We’re second only to Auckland which is both a regional and a city council.

I didn’t support the proposal because I don’t believe that we (Mayor and Councillors) fully considered all the other options, as you would expect us to. Other than pulling the rates lever, which is too easy, what else should we have considered?

There are at least five options. Firstly, a more detailed look at next year’s $218m capital works budget to see if we really need everything by 2021. Second, a line-by-line review of operating expenditure which didn’t occur this year; unlike previous years. Third, the effects of increasing our income to debt ratio from 225 per cent to 235 per cent. Fourth, increasing user-fees and charges.

Finally, considering different levels of commercial rates. Unlike residential rates which are high relative to the other cities, Tauranga has the lowest average commercial rates by far. The commercial lobby and some of our wealthiest residents have successfully convinced Council over years to suppress commercial rates. Consequently, by some measures, we’re under collecting around $49m in commercial rates every year. The proposed budget is being consulted on in April. Make your views known loud and clear!

 

Average Residential Rates

Average Commercial Rates

Tauranga*

$2886

$8449

Auckland*

$3685

$16,187

Hamilton

$2540

$15,071

Wellington

$2835

$27,842

Christchurch

$2770

$11,906

Dunedin

$2360

$16,652

*Tauranga doesn’t have a rubbish service; all others do.

*Auckland is both a city and a regional council.

 



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