On Thursday 10 December, Auckland Mayor Len Brown presented his proposal for the 2016/2017 Annual Plan, placing a focus on financial stability.
"Having been through a major review of service and investment levels as part of the 2015-2025 Long-term Plan (LTP) process, and having had several years of significant change in our rating system from amalgamation – this Annual Plan is about stability and delivering on our previous decisions," says Len Brown.
"Projected rate increases and debt levels have been reduced significantly in the current LTP from previous projections.
"Core costs are tracking below 2009 levels on a per capita basis and investment in the assets that Aucklanders, current and future, need continues at an unprecedented level."
Mayor Brown adds that the net result of the council's reduction of operating costs, as well as its capital programme, will allow Auckland Council to continue to address the challenges of growth and improving the city’s transport infrastructure.
A capital programme of $1.9 billion includes a transport investment of $720 million, water and wastewater of $440 million, and investment in parks, sport and recreation of $170 million.
"The rates increase included in the LTP for year two, based on the above capital works programme and continuation of our day-to-day services at current levels, is 3.2 per cent,” says Len Brown.
"However, I would like to see this reduced to something close to 2.5 per cent.
“I am not proposing we consult on any further reductions to service levels but I am asking staff continue to scrutinise our costs, particularly those macro issues of inflation and interest rates.”
Following discussions with the council's Finance and Performance Committee over the past few months, the mayor also proposed a shortlist of rating policy issues for consultation with Aucklanders in 2016.
- The Uniform Annual General Charge changing within a range of $350-$650
- An option of the interim transport levy to collect more from the business sector (in line with the general rate) and reduce the imposition on other ratepayers. This option would:
- Increase the share of the interim transport levy to be met by businesses from 14.7 per cent to 32.7 per cent for 2016/17, and 32.3 per cent for 2017/18
- Share the business interim transport levy among businesses on the basis of capital value rather than a fixed charge
- An extensive piece of work has been carried out by staff looking at the options for the rating of Māori freehold land
- An option that rates for farms over 50 hectares be reduced and reallocated across the entire rating base
- The targeted rate for septic tank replacement to be extended from the council's existing retrofit your home scheme to include the replacement of septic tanks in in specific pilot areas, being west coast lagoons and Waiheke’s Little Oneroa.
The Mayoral Proposal will be considered by the Governing Body on 17 December 2015.