Updated 21 July 2020 | For clarification, the Colmar Brunton survey mentioned in this article measured public support for the two specific rates increase options endorsed by Auckland Council for public consultation. It did not measure Aucklanders predisposition to a rates increase overall. Consequently, 51 per cent of survey respondents supported the 2.5 per cent increase option and 38 per cent of respondents supported the 3.5 per cent increase option with 11 per cent selecting ‘Don't know’.
We have adjusted this story, including a paragraph below (marked with **) to better reflect this point.
A majority of Aucklanders say a rates increase is needed to ensure that Auckland Council can continue to provide essential services and support those in financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, according to consultation on the council’s Emergency Budget.
A total of 34,915 submissions were received on the consultation, which ran for three weeks from 29 May to 19 June, making it the biggest response to a consultation in Auckland Council’s history.
The budget and consultation were in response to the financial impact of COVID-19, which has seen a forecast shortfall in revenue of nearly half a billion dollars over the next financial year.
The results of all feedback received through submissions show that 57 per cent of Aucklanders are in support of a general rates increase of either 2.5 per cent or 3.5 per cent.
Overall, the results of the consultation showed:
- 28 per cent supported a 3.5 per cent general rates increase
- 29 per cent supported a 2.5 per cent general rates increase
- 67 per cent supported a rates postponement for ratepayers impacted by COVID-19
- 72 per cent supported suspending the targeted rate paid by accommodation providers.
** A separate Colmar Brunton survey was conducted independently to achieve a representative outcome from a cross section of Aucklanders, with 38 per cent of those surveyed supporting a 3.5 per cent general rates increase and 51 per cent supporting a 2.5 per cent general rates increase.
Mayor Phil Goff says the record number of submissions shows how seriously Aucklanders take the Emergency Budget.
“The COVID-19 crisis means that this is not a business-as-usual budget for Aucklanders or for the council,” he says.
“Aucklanders have told us that they back a rates increase to ensure that council can continue to provide the essential services they value and rely on, and which our city needs.
“Decisions on the Emergency Budget must take into account the severe financial impact of COVID-19, which has slashed council revenue by around half a billion dollars in the next financial year, while ensuring that Auckland is able to respond to future challenges.
“At the time of consultation, we didn’t know about the $224m capital investment needed in Watercare to combat the drought. So that is also something councillors will have to take into account as we go through the next two weeks of budget deliberations.”
Councillor Desley Simpson, Chair of the Finance and Performance Committee, says “I am very grateful so many people took the time to have their say on our Emergency Budget, in particular the support for our approach to rates relief for those financially impacted by COVID-19.This budget is extremely challenging however we know we must put our people first.”
“Consultation feedback, alongside other relevant inputs will contribute to our final decision 16 July.”
Decisions on the final ‘Emergency Budget’ will take place on 16 July and then formally adopted by the Governing Body on 30 July.
Read the summary of feedback, including the Colmar Brunton survey, here.