Tag: Rates (tax)

More Taxes? No Thanks

Mayor Outlines Possible New Taxes

 

I saw this morning that the Mayor is effectively looking at a Poll Tax to either replace or supplement the current rating system (property tax) Council uses to raise revenue.

From Stuff:

Brown’s bold tax plan

Making all Aucklanders pay a council income tax may help elderly people in affluent areas who can’t afford their rates, mayor Len Brown says.

The current system is “inherently unfair” on people living on fixed incomes and paying high rates because of the value of their properties in areas like Devonport-Takapuna, Brown says.

Introducing an income-related tax for local council services that everyone pays is an option, he says.

Only property owners pay rates but the council is spending money on infrastructure and services for everyone, Brown says.

He believes the only way to mitigate the rates burden as property prices rise is to rethink how local government is funded.

Brown won’t express a view on what alternative might work saying he is “quite open minded”.

Options could include funding through income tax, GST, user pays charges, or bed taxes from hotel.

—-ends—-

 

Last time a poll tax got mentioned it cost Maggie Thatcher her Prime Ministership in 1990 to John Major. While we do need to think how Local Government is funded in New Zealand such as all GST collected from rates is given straight back to the Council rather than Central Government keeping it (Australia has a GST sharing arrangement between the Federal Government and the State Governments) I believe priority one is getting our expenses in line first.

Debt moving from 175% to 275% to me is unacceptable by all means. If we need to go that high then it seems it might be time to take the ruler and red pen over expenditure. I was given an alternative to how the budget should be set for Council by an elected representative once. The idea was quite intriguing in using a big massive white board at the back of the chamber where the Councillors meet (so where the food sits) with revenue down one side and expenditure (OPEX and CAPEX) down the other. Everyone can see it, everyone can comment on it, but the sole key requirement was you did the income first then the expenditure to match the income. Not the current method of do the expenditure first then find the income to cover it. With the board present it would serve as a constant reminder if you want something can the revenue cover it – if not what needs to “go” first. Pretty much this is what households and businesses do – or rather should do (our savings and debt is nothing to crow about)

 

So I am rather cool on the Mayor’s announcement on new funding mechanisms when our current budgets are disjointed as they are.

 

Just a quick note on another Orsman piece this morning I noticed he was going on about the City debt lifting by $74 million currently. A reminder that $60 million of that is the Colin Maiden Park purchase from the University of Auckland to ensure Auckland continues to have green space as it grows. So not as alarming as it was portrayed this morning as that $60m will continue to pay dividends for generations to come.

 

Do Not Forget Your Unitary Plan, and Annual Plan Submissions

Have Your Say

 

Do not forget to send in your submissions for both the Unitary Plan and the Draft Annual Plan 2014/2015 by their respective dates.

The Unitary Plan deadline is close of business on the 28th February while the Draft Annual Plan 2014/2015 deadline is 4pm Monday 24th February.

 

All your Unitary Plan information can be found at these two websites:

 

Be aware that to participate in the second submission round and the hearings later next year you MUST have sent in your first submission by the end of this month.

 

The Draft Annual Plan 2014/2015 (the annual budget document) can be found here: http://www.annualplan.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/

Again to attend the hearings panel or forums on the Annual Plan you must have your formal submission handed in by the deadline first.

 

More chances to submit will be out later in the year when the Area Plans and Local Board Plan come out as well – so stay tuned

 

Annual Plan Submissions Now Called For

Have your say on council’s draft Annual Plan

 

From Auckland Council on the up coming Annual Plan (a Council budget document) submission process:

Have your say on council’s draft Annual Plan

 

How Auckland Council plans to invest in projects and programmes to meet the growing needs of the region are outlined in the draft Annual Plan 2014/2015 which opens for public consultation this week.

The plan details the organisation’s proposed budget, activities and investment programme for next financial year. It also includes draft local board agreements that highlight each of the board’s local priorities, projects and advocacy issues

Auckland’s continuing population growth, a public desire for higher quality infrastructure and maintenance of existing assets is driving council’s significant investment programme.

$1.8 billion of capital expenditure is planned in the next financial year, with $1.25 billion of new assets to be bought or built, including:

  • $146m to continue purchasing electric trains and $193m for the next stage of the City Rail Link
  • $85m for local and sports parks
  • $25m to continue development of new libraries in Massey North, Te Atatu Peninsula, Devonport, Flat Bush, Takanini and Ōtāhuhu
  • $19m to upgrade town centres, including New Lynn, Westgate, Devonport, Mt Albert and Pukekohe

 

“It is important that we continue to invest in the future, in major region-wide infrastructure, and in local communities through projects such as new libraries, town centres, parks and sports ground upgrades,” says the Mayor.

“Aucklanders want financial prudence, which is the why the draft annual plan is based on ongoing savings, a low average rate increase and judicious investment.”

The average rates increase for the 2014/2015 financial year has reduced from an average of 4.9 per cent (as projected in our 10-year long-term plan) to an average of 2.4 per cent.

The council is seeking feedback on the proposed draft Annual Plan, including the local projects and proposed budget changes raised by each local board.  Through the draft annual plan the council is also consulting on:

  • implementing a strategy for Eden Park, Mount Smart, Western Springs and North Harbour stadiums that involves developing new facilities, shifting some sporting codes and streamlining operations at each venue to more efficiently accommodate major events and ensure the venues’ long-term success
  • delivering a wider range of benefits to Aucklanders and the creative sector by providing increased funding to the Auckland Arts Festival Trust to allow the festival become an annual event rather than every two years

 

Submissions on Auckland Council’s draft Annual Plan 2014/2015 open 23 January and close Monday, 24 February 2014.

 

More information on the draft annual plan and how to make a submission will be available online at www.annualplan.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz  from 23 January.

—ends–

 

Annual Plan and Unitary Plan Submissions at the same time, enough to keep you bogged down for the next four weeks. None-the-less if you can do submit on the Council budget document for the 2014/2015 year.

 

Submission to Annual Plan

Submission Sent for 2013/2014 Annual Plan

 

I have just sent my submission through the online portal to Auckland Council for the 2013/2014 Annual Plan. I used the online portal for such submissions as an “express mode” of sending the basics of my idea through to the Councillors and bureaucrats with the main thrust of my arguments subsequently made at a hearing where I can talk to Councillors and bureaucrats (with more success) face to face.

In saying that there are times with submissions where I will go “knit a flag” and do the 55 page spiel where I think the topic is critical. This was both The Auckland Plan and Long Term Plan submissions I did as well a 25 page spiel for the Auckland Transport Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP). In all three cases I fronted up to hearings or forum panels to make my points emphasised to the councillors and bureaucrats.

 

As this is an open democracy (and where I expect people to disagree as well) – and the fact my submission is public anyhow, I am going to paste my express online submission here below before going to work in the Hearings presentation:

Express Online Submission to 2013/2014 Annual Plan

 

The Supporting Documents can be found by clicking the links below

Extract From BR on AP in Regards to Stations PDF Mode  (THE RAIL EFFICIENCY PROGRAM #5A)

Extract From BR for AP Submission PDF Mode  (BACK FROM HEARING PANEL)

 

As I said above I will front the Annual Plan Hearings to emphasis the points made in the online submission when the time comes up to do so.

 

But the basic principle of Council Living Within Its Means and Open Governance apply and again will be emphasised in the hearings and beyond.

 

Now I await for the phone call to make the time slot for the hearing which should be… nuts I might be in Australia when this occurs <_<  – will have to wait and see then.

 

In the mean time you have until February to make your Annual Plan Submission. You can find the Annual Plan homepage here: Draft annual plan 2013/2014, which also includes the link to the Online submission portal.

 

Rates Movement

Which Way Are Your Rates Due to Move

 

Yesterday buried at the bottom of my Annual Plan post I had a chart on rates movements for the 2013/2014 Council financial year per Local Board area. I thought I might repost it here along with the percentages of the movements on rates increases and decreased spread over the Auckland Area to see how many got an increase, and how many got a decrease – so lets take a look:

 

Rates Movement by Local Board – 2013/2014

 

By percentage

 

I’ll let you figure out if the majority are facing increases or decreases – and by how much 😉

 

 

(South) Auckland Gets Shafted – Again (Ctd)

Someone Flushed Good Money Down the Loo – on a Possible White Elephant

 

I got wind of this particular story last night on $14 million of our ratepayers cash being spent on a possible (heck it is actually) White Elephant called a car parking building.

From Bernard Orsman of The NZ Herald:

$14m empty carpark – that you paid for

By Bernard Orsman BernardOrsman

Rates slashed but Manukau’s $14m parking building remains almost empty daily.

A carparking building in Manukau that cost ratepayers $14 million to build is sitting virtually empty and slashing prices to attract vehicles.

The building has been called a “dog” by councillor Dick Quax and lauded by Mayor Len Brown as a transformational project for the Manukau community – few of whom are using it.

When the Herald visited yesterday, the top two levels of the seven-storey Ronwood Ave carpark were empty and there were just 10 vehicles on the top five levels, including five Auckland Council cars.

The first and second floors had 62 and 18 vehicles respectively, but overall the 680-space carpark hadan occupancy rate of just 13 per cent.

It is understood the occupancy rate has improved since Auckland Transport cut the hourly rate from $3 to $1 and the all-day casual rate from $19 to $6 and $4 for an early bird special.

The transport body is matching and, in some instances, undercutting its own on-street rates to lure vehicles to the carpark. The on-street charges are $1 an hour and up to a maximum of $5 for all-day parking.

The $14.05 million carpark opened on June 18 as a revenue-gathering, commercial operation by Auckland Transport.

An Auckland Transport spokeswoman yesterday said it was performing below budget while the new Manukau Institute of Technology campus – which is leasing 240 carparks – was still under construction.

It was also built to free up valuable land in the city centre for future development to provide another 354 leases and act as a park-and-ride facility for the new Manukau branch line railway station with 86 public spaces.

The pro-public transport Auckland Transport Blog has called the carpark a disaster and an appalling waste of money, and published aerial photographs showing it set in a “sea of … car parking” at Manukau central.

Mr Quax said the carpark was a dog and he did not believe it would reach capacity for a long time, and councillor George Wood described it as a strange project with few vehicles using it.

But Mr Brown, who encountered strong resistance to the carpark when he was Mayor of Manukau City, remains bullish.

“This project is an investment in the future of Manukau City along with the neighbouring train station and MIT campus currently being built,” he said. “It is an example of our commitment to our growing metropolitan centres across Auckland.”

A planned $6 million expansion of the carpark has been cancelled.
Carparking woes

$14m cost to build

680 parking spaces

90 spaces in use yesterday

$19 original all-day casual rate

$4 new all-day early bird rate

 

Oh dear, oh dear what has the Mayor and Auckland Transport done with this folly.

 

My reaction of Facebook reaction was rather swift as well as Twitter comments on what $14m could of been better spent on:

Meh – the Mayor is full of crap (even more so than the Mangere Sewage Plant) with his comments on the AT public parking building in Manukau City Centre. If AT are having to slash prices to even undercut its own street parking that is already existing then we have a problem.

Note to AT Planners, Manukau is a destination station – not an origin station so a Park and Ride is next to useless here regardless of the Manukau Tertiary Campus

 

As I have said before; people COME TO Manukau as it is a major service hub, not start their journeys from the station (well there are a few but more of a rarity there) so a public car parking building acting as a Park and Ride is nothing short of a daft idea. In a conversation I had with a Councillor last night; I said that even with the Tertiary Campus being built, the parking building is in the wrong place let alone the fact no student is going to pay $19/day (although that has been slashed now) when they can park on the street for $5/day. Also the fact that most students are most likely to catch a bus or a train (Manukau South Link anyone?) to the campus might be an indicator that this new parking building is going to remain under utilised.

 

Now as for this AT parking building in the wrong spot, let me show some pictures for you to illustrate my point (click for full resolution):

The annotated pictures show what is currently happening and what SHOULD of happened to get better bang for our buck in ratepayer investment!

 

So what could of $14 million could of got the ratepayer instead of this parking building? It could have got the following (the newer Avondale Train Station cost $2 million as a base price comparison for a new station)

  • Close to a 1% reduction in our rates bill
  • The Walters Road Rail Station behind the Mitre 10 MEGA at Takanini, complete with Park and Ride, Kiss and Ride and even a shuttle bus facility
  • Upgrades to Papakura Station Interchange including again Park and Ride, Kiss and Ride and Bus Interchange
  • The Manukau South Link (4 times over)
  • Upgrade to the tired Otahuhu Town Centre Bus Station
  • New Bus Stops at Addison and East Takanini (which has no bus routes currently)
  • Deposit on the Selwyn Station complete again with Park and Ride, Kiss and Ride, and Shuttle Bus Facility (Selwyn Station is the relocated Meadowbank Station)
  • Decent lawn mowing and garden services for Papakura and Manurewa Local Boards

 

But no, we won’t be seeing any of those investments (apart from Selwyn Station and the Manukau South Link) any time soon!

 

Come on Your Worship and Auckland Transport, get it together with better investment and planning of our scarce ratepayer dollars on WORTHWHILE projects – for which that new Manukau Parking Building is NOT!