Month: July 2012

More on Rates

You Can Tell our Rates Bills are Coming

 

 

That would be especially the case with two more articles on Rates in this morning NZ Herald.

Lets take a quick look at both shall we:

Both articles from the NZ Herald

Most Auckland firms will face big rates increases

By Bernard Orsman

5:30 AM Tuesday Jul 31, 2012

About 8000 Auckland small businesses and 1700 large businesses face rates increases of more than 10 per cent for three consecutive years. Unlike households, businesses do not have the luxury of a rates cap and have to change to the new single rating system for the Super City in equal steps over three years. Seven out of 10 small businesses and six out of 10 big businesses face a rise in rates. About 11,000 businesses across the region will get a reduction in rates.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown said that while the value of rates being paid by business was being shuffled around, the 34 per cent of total rates collected from businesses was the same as under the former councils.

For every dollar in rates paid by households, urban businesses are charged $2.63 and rural businesses $2.37. In the case of Pukekohe businesses, the council has set the differential at $2.03. This is because the former Franklin District Council did not charge a business differential and a $2.63 differential would have had a “significant and extreme” impact on those businesses, Mr Brown said.

BUSINESS RATES

* Most businesses pay $2.63 for every $1 paid by households.
* Pukekohe businesses will pay $2.03.
* The $2.63 differential will be cut by 10c every year to $1.63 after 10 years.

 

So businesses get slugged rather heavily. Not particularly helpful when trying to encourage businesses into Auckland and either create or expand employment centres like Papakura, and Manukau City Centre which sorely need our existing and new businesses.

I must have a look over the conversations I have had with people since the Long Term Plan (which has set our rates) came into force. As I am for sure the Business Differential could be around the $1.50 mark if Council could balance its books properly. So much with a Business Diff at $2.63 for Auckland being the most livable city (when we rate our businesses into oblivion).

 

 

With this next article it is a case of you win some and you lose some:

Manukau hit by 41.4% rise in wastewater costs

By Bernard Orsman

5:30 AM Tuesday Jul 31, 2012

Auckland Mayor Len Brown’s old city of Manukau – home to many of the poorest suburbs in Auckland – is being hit with a 41.4 per cent rise in wastewater charges. Combined with a 3 per cent rise in rates, that makes the 95,000 households in Manukau the biggest losers of a single rating system for the Super City with an average increase of 10.3 per cent. The move to a single charge for wastewater has resulted in significant rises and falls across the region with residents in Manukau, Waitakere and the North Shore feeling the brunt of the increases.

The big winners are residents in the old Auckland City, who have been paying wastewater charges based on use through Metrowater, a council company, since 1997 when other councils subsidised the true cost of wastewater in their rates. Auckland City wastewater charges are falling by an average of 19.6 per cent, although some low water users will pay more. Mr Brown – the former Mayor of Manukau whose political career began on the streets of Otara – yesterday denied that Manukau had subsidised wastewater through rates.

 

Thank Lord I moved from Manukau to Papakura with incoming waste-water charges going up like that. If you compare the jump in water prices to your rates bill as shown in the embed below, maybe Orakei and Councillor Brewer got a sweet deal after all – because Manukau sure did not looking at the averages.

However averages are averages. VOAKL is interested to hear how you “feel” once your rates and water bill arrives in your letter box. Did you get stung or did you in the overall scheme of things get some savings? Comment below.

As for me:

Residents in the former Papakura District Council will continue to be billed by United Water, which has provided water and wastewater services since 1997 to about 15,000 customers under a 30-year franchise agreement.

So a sweet deal through to 2027?

 

Time to review the books again folks, especially as I see the following article from The NBR: NZ families fret over fraught financial situation – survey

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Gates Installed

Gates Installed at Britomart

 

I was at Britomart this morning and saw these devices greeting me as I moved off my train and towards the main bank of stairs/escalators:

 

Ticket Gates at Britomart

 

They are not operating yet but will give the passengers some time getting use to “single file” through them.

 

 

 

Commentary from David Thorton

David Thorton’s Commentary on Auckland Rates

 

Note: The material below was written by David Thorton – all credits and rights belong to David

 

‎30 July 2012

COMMENTARY by David Thornton – on Auckland Council rates.

Mayor misleads ratepayers – and only Parliament can protect ratepayers.

Mayor Len Brown misleads ratepayers with his repeated claim that his new rating system is ‘fairer to everyone’ because properties of equal value will pay exactly the same amount of rates. What he studiously ignores is the fact that, the household incomes of ratepayers of equal value homes, are not equal.
When Mayor Brown talks about an average rates increase of 3.6% he is toying with the reality of the situation. This figure of 3.6% refers to the increase in the amount of total rates income the council wants to raise.
Of course Mayor Brown follows this same misleading path all councils use to explain their rate increases. Very few ratepayers pay the ‘average’ increase.

The facts in Auckland are that 46% of residential ratepayers will have increases of between 5% and a maximum capped at 10%, while only 29% will receive a decrease of a maximum capped at 5.6%. The remaining 25% will get an increase or decrease of up to 5% – and maybe a few in this group will in fact get Mayor Brown’s 3.6% increase.

These percentages were provided to me by officials at the council and disprove Mayor Brown’s statement in today’s NZ Herald that ‘Most people will be around the average’. More disturbing is the ‘Winner and Losers’ table published in the NZ Herald which clearly demonstrates that, generally, the heavily populated North and Central/Eastern suburbs suffer the greatest increases, while suburbs in the South and West mostly enjoy decreases or increases below 2%. With average changes ranging from a decrease of 3.9% in Franklin to an increase of 8.4% in Albert-Eden, the level of wealth redistribution can only be considered as unacceptable.

Will ratepayers revolt by withholding their rates?

In the 2003/4 Regional Ratepayers Rebellion 140,000 ratepayers withheld all or part of their rates when the former Auckland Regional Council rates bills were sent out. Over a period of 18 months most of those rebels finally paid up but that rebellion was acknowledged as the cause of the downfall of many ARC councillors at the 2004 election.

But, with or without a similar rebellion, it is not difficult to forecast that a similar fate may well befall many current members of the new Auckland Council, and probably the Mayor as well.
The effect of this year’s rates increase is arguably greater than in 2003, but this time there has been a very expensive advertising campaign to soften up ratepayers by aiming to sell the Mayor’s vision of ‘the world’s most liveable city’ and by the ‘fairer rates’ campaign. It seems that the public has largely refused to accept this vision, nor has the public accepted the Mayor’s claim that his rates policy is fair to all.

But with the rates bill now on the way to the letterbox what can the individual ratepayer do?

There is hope on the near horizon in the form of the Local Government Amendment Bill, currently before Select Committee, which will have the effect of limiting council spending and levels of rates increases. The Bill passed first reading by only one vote – and all local councils have announced their opposition to key parts of the Bill. On the other hand many ratepayer groups and individuals have made submissions welcoming and supporting the Bill. Mayor Brown is deeply concerned that if the Bill becomes law in its present form the Auckland Council will have to rewrite its Auckland Plan and the 10-year budget with its 4.9% annual rates increase.

Ratepayers could not care less about Mayor Brown’s plans – all they care about is the size of the rates bill about to arrive in the letterbox.

The best chance ratepayers have to change all this is by enlisting the support of MPs, of every Party, to support the Amendment Bill in Parliament.

Despite the cries of outrage about the loss of local democracy in the Bill, councils are creatures of statute, and only Parliament can now protect ratepayers from extravagant and unresponsive councils.

ends

Reply to David’s Commentary from VOAKL

What can we the average ratepayer do? Well I ask that question and gave a lengthy response to it in an earlier post and is worth a read. I also called for the head of the Chairperson of the Council Strategy and Finance Committee as well. As for this:

Mayor Brown is deeply concerned that if the Bill (Local Government Amendment Bill) becomes law in its present form the Auckland Council will have to rewrite its Auckland Plan and the 10-year budget with its 4.9% annual rates increase.

I say BRING IT! The Auckland Plan I ranked as a “C-” Grade plan with the only two things preventing the Plan from failing out right was the City Rail Link and the 60:40 Brownfield:Greenfield urban development split which both I supported and advocated for via my submission to The Auckland Plan. As for The Long Term Plan; well I am in opposition to it as I rated that Plan a dismal failure so a rewrite to that would be most certainly welcome from me! And The Unitary Plan? Well that is not up for submission yet so can not comment just yet on it 😉 .

 

On the note of:

Despite the cries of outrage about the loss of local democracy in the Bill, councils are creatures of statute, and only Parliament can now protect ratepayers from extravagant and unresponsive councils.

This is my reply to it in the embed below:

 

Links

Submission to The Auckland Plan

Submission to The Long Term Plan

 

And remember come 2013 Auckland Council:

From Councillor Cameron Brewer

A Media Release From Councillor Cameron Brewer of Orakei Ward

 

 

A previous media release from Orakei Ward Councillor – Cameron Brewer

 

256,000 Households Face Average Rates Increase Of 8.1%

Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer

Media release

28 June 2012

256,000 Households Face Average Rates Increase Of 8.1%
Auckland Council signed off its $58 billion 10-year budget today with over a quarter of a million Auckland households facing significant rates rises from next month,” says Auckland Councillor for Orakei, Cameron Brewer.

“We hear a lot from the Mayor that the average rates increase will be 3.6% for 2012/13, but that includes all those getting huge decreases. When you take out those households receiving rates decreases, the average increase is 8.1% for those 256,000 residents facing an increase. That’s higher than the overall increase of 7.8% for Christchurch residents and that rating base has been decimated and the city destroyed.

Mr Brewer says information provided by the council’s finance department also shows that from the nearly 24,000 business facing increases, the average increase is 12.8%, including 4,410 businesses facing average rates increases of 50.4%. Those 8,000 in the ‘farm and lifestyle’ rating category facing an increase can expect an average increase of 7%.

“This is after the council’s rates transition management policy is applied, which will see residential rate increases capped at 10% in the first year with the difference spilling over subsequent years, and increases to business rates evenly phased in over three years.

“The capping and phasing policy may lessen the instant pain but it arguably just prolongs the agony,” he says.

Mr Brewer says about 133,000 Auckland residential ratepayers will have to pay at least 10% more, including about 47,000 who will pay at least 20% more albeit capped, with 62.5% of his Orakei ward expected to pay the full 10% cap.

“The council’s advertising material is promoting the new rating system as “fairer all round”. However it’s far from fair if you’re on the wrong side of the ledger.

“This is going to bite a majority of Auckland householders and businesses when they don’t need any more cost. So much for amalgamation making things less expensive. This council had plenty of tools and options to lessen the increases but chose not to apply them. Instead the Mayor has gone on a massive spending spree which will also see council debt skyrocket,” says Cameron Brewer.

The five councillors who voted against the Long Term Plan were Cameron Brewer, Calum Penrose, Dick Quax, Sharon Stewart and George Wood.

 

 

Commentary continues with the next subsequent post relaying commentary from No-More-Rates spokesperson David Thorton

Stand By

 

Rates Due to Hit the Letter Box Thursday or Next Week

 

Soon the wait and for some agony will be over – well part one anyway when our first set of rates under the new Super City regime hit our letter boxes.

From the NZH:

Aucklanders brace for rates shock

By Bernard Orsman

More than a quarter of a million Auckland households are in for a shock when rates bills averaging an 8.1 per cent increase arrive in letter boxes from this week.

On Thursday, North Shore, Waitakere and Rodney households and businesses will be the first to feel the impact of a single rating system for the Super City under which some rates will go up and others will go down. The rest of Auckland will receive the bills next week.

Mayor Len Brown describes the merging of the eight former councils’ rating systems into one as “a very difficult situation”.

Council figures show the new system will give 256,000 households an 8.1 per cent average rates increase, and 187,000 households an average 4.9 per cent decrease.

Hardest hit are many suburbs of the former Auckland City Council, such as Remuera, Mt Eden and Mt Roskill, plus Howick. Areas where household rates will be down include West Auckland, Papakura and Franklin.

Yesterday, Mr Brown said the average rates increase throughout the region was 3.6 per cent, and the swings were an inescapable consequence of a Government-imposed rating system based on capital value.

So my rates bill arrives next week – shudder. When your rates do arrive feel free with your honest opinions here at VOAKL. Of course you can be anonymous with your comments if you wish, but please remember The Rules section when commenting.

You could say the Final Countdown is here – although for some it will not be a lot to “celebrate” over.

 

Embedded below The NZ Herald’s Graphic on Auckland’s New Rates Explained

[All Rights of this Graphic belong to The New Zealand Herald]

 

Come Live In The Fringe

South and West Gaining Desirability

 

Good news for Papakura, Manurewa and Henderson

From The NZ Herald:

Less pricey suburbs draw the buyers

By Alanah Eriksen

Reluctance to buy homes in Auckland’s less glamorous suburbs is disappearing as the areas replace the more picturesque North Shore and city spots as the most in-demand locations to buy. A housing shortage and less money in wallets has pushed home buyers to the city’s west and southern fringes, and the time it takes to sell a home in these areas is reducing. Houses in Upper Harbour were the quickest to sell this time last year at a median of 23 days. But now it takes an average 37 days to sell a house in the suburb, which has a median house price of $521,000.

The increase in time-to-sell is the biggest in metropolitan Auckland, Real Estate Institute figures show.

Homes in many city and North Shore suburbs are taking longer to sell than they did in June last year, while those in southern suburbs such as Papakura and Manurewa are moving almost twice as quickly as they did a year ago. Western suburbs such as Henderson and Titirangi are also having a sales boom. In Papakura, which had a median house price of $350,000, a home took about 49 days to sell last year, but the figure has dropped by 22 days to 27.

Ted Ingram of Ray White Papakura said he had a growing number of inquiries from home buyers who wanted to move south. “It’s lost its stigma to a large degree, I’ve found,” he said. “No one’s getting pay rises in the city but costs are still going up so they’re coming out to cheaper housing to have that little bit extra in their pocket.

“There’s a lot of stuff in South Auckland now that some people in Auckland should be envious of – employment, not so much traffic congestion, all the big stores are out here.”

Yep I can vouch for all of that above having bought our first home for below $300,00 (and it is a solid ex-army house so it will not leak like the modern stuff). Manurewa, Papakura and Henderson have quite some affordable and quality housing that is close to transit links and employment centres. For Manurewa and Papakura the primary job centres outside of the respective town centres are: Takanini, Wiri (industry and manufacturing), south Papakura (again industry) and Manukau City itself which acts as South Auckland’s CBD.

 

Coming Up in South Auckland (with a but)

Manukau, Manurewa and Papakura are up for some massive urban development and redevelopment coupled with The Southern Initiative led by the Mayor. We have this one change to use Brown and Greenfield developments to allow South Auckland to be an economic hub of (wider) Auckland and have affordable housing for ALL OUR CITIZENS! That means no matter what you should be able to afford and get a house from $200,000 right through to the high-end if you have the cash.

 

But there are problems down this way in Papakura and Takanini where I live that need to be resolved. Auckland Council are heavily focused in drawing resources away from the suburbs and flooding it into the CBD. As a result South Auckland’s Local Boards do not have the resources to work on critical works such as infrastructure for its growing population, and Central Government dragging the chain on upgrading State Highway One. Check the embedded Facebook discussion on issues that have cropped up on the southern fringe:

With a late comment here: I think I recall a rumour that it was someone in oppostion like Bunnings but I can’t remember. I think the Mayor needs to see this diabolical state of affairs through another term but there does need to be changes in the balance of the governing body to bring fiscal commonsense to the table.

If that is a Bunnings opening up, that is an extra 150 jobs from cleaner right up to management at the new site, with more jobs provided indirectly through logistics and contractors. On the negative side is that Walters Road is still like a rural road. Check this out from Google Maps – Street View: http://goo.gl/maps/aEI6M    You can see the issues that are going to crop up there rather fast – especially so close to the Walters Road Crossing and proposed Park and Ride Rail Station. Something to hit Auckland Council hard and fast over immediately.

 

So plenty of opportunity all round for everyone and Auckland Council in and for South Auckland. To see what I submitted on to The Auckland Plan urban development wise you can click HERE.

CRL Discussion Ctd

Honest Discussion on the City Rail Link #2

 

Part of The City Rail Link Series

Debate on the City Rail Link continues with figures and all sorts coming out from both sides coin.

VOAKL will cut right down the middle and look at some discussion that has continued on The City Rail Link

It is time for a discussion and VOAKL will provide one – for everyone with a VIEW

 

From CRL Discussion (Part One):

NZ Herald journalist (or commentator (or both)) Bernard Orsman posted a remark on Facebook about Centre-Left Councillor Casey and Centre Right Minister of Transport Brownlee being odd bed-fellows in regards most likely to the City Rail Link or the Alternative Transport Funding proposal which Brownlee shredded on Friday. (20/7/12)

Well after I had posted that post, the Facebook end of the discussion continued between Mark and myself (with I think one other as well) on the CRL. But to keep the conversation in context here is the entire discussion in the embed below:

 

I think what Mark and I can both conclude was my final comment in the entire CRL affair:

To which an entirely new business case led by the University of Auckland is needed. To be honest we need to start the whole CRL debate and most likely the project again. I am thinking of the parameters of this new business case proposal at the moment

 

And that is my mood on the CRL right here and now. It is also the reason why I am advocating as hard as I can to delay the CRL start date for the 2018-2022. If you want to know my real underlying reason for delaying the CRL it is because of FEAR. Yes fear; fear of resistance and blow back from ratepayers next year in the 2013 Local Elections, and 2014 in the National Elections if the CRL continues to be poorly sold and led in the debate by Auckland Transport and Auckland Council. I also have this nagging thing in the back of my head that the Centre-Left are their own worst enemy and will defeat the CRL they are pushing so hard for, while the Centre-Right would actually save the CRL and get the damn mega project built. I suppose that nagging doubt would be from the fact that it was former Auckland City Mayor The Hon. Chris Fletcher who got Britomart built.

So I think Mark and myself, plus other concerned people (whether pro or anti CRL) need to have a sit down and have a good chat here on thrashing out a viable bi-partisan Auckland transport plan. Hehe though least we won’t cost $1.1 million unlike our Resident Prude – The Absentee Mayor – Len Brown‘s Gold Plated “Relationship Building” by dining once a month with lobbyists .

 

In the mean time check this from Auckland Transport on the City Rail Link:

 

The latest on the CRL alignment – which includes both The East Link and the Inner West Interchange (only one will be built though). I hope for Auckland’s sake the East Link is built and the Inner West Interchange is dumped, as we have two perfectly good siding tracks at Morningside (with a bit of work) that can turn around trains out of the main-line just nicely (without  buggering up even more residents or businesses).

Upon looking at this current alignment it seems that The CRL might be a staged development after all. I suppose we will soon see in due time.

In the mean time this mega-project plods along like a lumbering bull. I think it is time we restarted from scratch on the whiteboard.

What do you think?

In Brief

In Brief on the Incoming from Auckland Council

 

I will cover these two particular issues in-depth over the weekend, but for your Friday viewing we shall take a look In Brief two particular issues that affect Auckland – highly

 

Rates

From Stuff.co.nz

Rates bill on its way

ESTHER LAUAKI

Mayor Len Brown is defending the capital value-based rates model and asking for understanding when eastern bays residents get their bills next month. The task of amalgamating rates across eight legacy councils is complete and there will be winners and losers. Councillor Cameron Brewer says despite widespread publicity that everyone can expect rates increases averaging 3.6 per cent, most in the Orakei ward face an increase of more than twice that. Some will get a reprieve from the hefty hike but more than 28,000 households in the area will pay an average 7.67 per cent more than last year.

“I’m particularly worried about the impact on those residents who find themselves asset rich but cash poor. “In the eastern suburbs we have a lot of elderly living off very modest fixed incomes who are struggling to stay in the family home. “These rates increases will sadly tip some over the edge,” Mr Brewer says. “For many, it could not have come at a worse time and just adds to a growing list of costs being lumped on to ratepayers. “Last month it was user-pays rubbish. “This month the talk’s been about toll roads and fuel taxes and next month, it’s rates increases.”

Rates rises are capped at 10 per cent and 18,310 households in Orakei will pay that this year. The majority of those households actually face rates rises greater than 15 per cent. What they don’t pay this year will turn up in their rates bills over the next two years.

Mr Brewer says a higher Uniform Annual General Charge could have brought rates down for higher valued households but it was voted against. The charge is set at $350. Mr Brown says property valuation was the best option.

“When we changed rates it was tough enough, it’s never had to be done before and we’re trying to do a few things at the same time. “Properties across Auckland of a similar value and use will, over time, be charged a similar amount of rates. “I support this system because it was the least impact for the most amount of people. We explored a number of different ways to change rates and this was the fairest way. “Every other option would have meant an increase for Orakei and this was the option that was the best.”

Mr Brewer believes it’s political that the model sees Manukau and Waitakere set to enjoy rates decreases while the eastern suburbs face massive increases.

Mr Brown says: “I’m always going to be subject to that accusation that I’m favouring one or the other but I’m going straight down the middle and I’m pretty sure we’ve done a good job.

 

I have covered this particular issue before when I was submitting and reacting to The Long Term Plan earlier this year. I will go back over my previous commentary and run full commentary on our incoming rates bills for your consumption either Sunday or Monday coming up.

In brief though, I am in opposition to The Long Term Plan thus the incoming rating scheme and rates bills to hit our mail boxes!

And to be clear, open and honest with readers on here and as I have said before; when my rates bill comes out I face a rates decrease.

 

Response to The Auckland Plan from Central Government

From   Howick and Pakuranga Times:

Argy-bargy over plan

By: MARIANNE KELLY | Thursday, 26 July 2012

CATERING for an increased population’s housing and transport needs over the next three decades is a sticking point in discussions between super-city councillors and Government ministers.

The recent annual meeting between Mayor Len Brown and Auckland councillors and Local Government Minister David Carter, along with other senior ministers, concentrated on the Government’s reaction to the 30-year Auckland Plan.

Mr Carter says the Government supports the plan’s approach in several areas, such as economic development, arts, culture and heritage, Maori development and recreation and sport.

“However, some concerns were expressed about the effectiveness and affordability of the transport strategy and proposals to address quality affordable housing in Auckland.”

The Auckland Plan, the Government response paper says, continues to emphasise a shift to public transport as the main way of addressing congestion. Public transport is expected to make up 12 per cent of peak period trips and eight per cent of daily trips in 2041.

“However, this is not enough to offset the forecast increase in demand for private vehicle travel as the population grows,” says Mr Carter.

“The Auckland Plan proposes an ambitious programme of roads and public transport projects.

“However, the modelling results show that even if these projects are implemented, congestion is forecast to increase significantly from 2021, affecting the majority of trips on the Auckland network.”

The paper says the Government does not support the plan’s estimates of $10 billion to $15b needed over the next 30 years to deliver the proposed transport programme. “Given the forecast results, and taking into account the projected growth, the Government also remains to be convinced that the programme represents the right mix of projects and provides value for money.”

It says the Government will consider the transport projects in the Auckland Plan on their merits.

“The challenging economic environment means the Government will not be in a position to support programmes or projects which do not deliver benefits to justify the cost,” says Mr Carter.

 

You can read the rest of the article by clicking the respective link.

I have managed to get a hold of a PDF copy on The Auckland Plan from the Minister of Local Government – The Hon. David Carter and will embed it down below. I will also run full independent commentary on this ready (hopefully) for Monday . But in the meantime take a look and post a comment below on your thoughts to Central Government’s reaction to The Auckland Plan.

 

So stay tuned for more commentary coming up on: The Auckland Plan and your Rates Bill – due to hit your mail box soon.

 

Response to The Auckland Plan