Rates Rise Unfair: Sayers gains support of Seven Councillors

3 July 2021. KUMEU COURIER NEWSPAPER. Any rates rise in the Kumeu and the rural subdivisions across Rodney are unfair without the building of new infrastructure, or providing more services.

So says Rodney councillor Greg Sayers, adding that traffic congestion issues and general road maintenance need resolving as well throughout the Huapai/Kumeu district, and rural unsealed roads are the same.

“As the councillor for the area I objected to the targeted 16% rates increase affecting around two thousand Kumeu, Riverhead, Taupaki and other households without proper services and infrastructure being funded for the area from those rates.

“And I have the support of seven councillors on this who care about Rodney.

“We all voted against the 16% increase, but we didn’t have the 11 votes required around the Mayoral table to squash it completely. However, we were able to apply enough pressure to get them to bend – a bit.”

Sayers says a 16% rate increase proposed for the rural urban area (properties inside the rural-urban boundary) will now be spread in increments over three years instead of being slammed onto homeowners as one massive increase this year.

“I’m not happy at all about this, but the Council and the majority of councillors, including the Mayor, wanted to push the massive rates increase through.”

“Some say politics is the art of compromise – the compromise was getting the 16% rate increase spread over three years. We would have preferred that another four councillors would have voted with us to have the increase axed completely.”

Sayers explains that rate increases affect households by dipping into the wages coming in, while landlords do not typically absorb the cost of rate increases but instead pass them onto their tenants. Not only does this impact families financially when they are trying to cope with the impacts of Covid-19, it also contributes to making Auckland’s housing more unaffordable. Yet the Council keeps spending, taxing and borrowing more money which is the exact opposite of what they should be doing for Aucklanders.

He’s also concerned only one community project is being allowed every 10 years for Local Boards to address local and regional needs – instead of one project every year, or as needed to cope with growth.

“For example Rodney keeps being promised a multisports facility at the Huapai domain but Council keeps deferring it. My ongoing concern is that this is the only project the Local Board gets for 10 years from Council’s ‘One Local Initiative’ program, from all the rates and development contributions being paid.”

And he has started the debate with Mayor Phil Goff, Auckland Council chief executive Jim Stabback and others about core council functions and “cutting our cloth to fit.”

Sayers adds that in a time of hardship most people have cut back on things, so he’d like the council to focus and target more funding on core business and less on nice to have spending.

He says public feedback from Rodney residents on the Mayors budget was not supportive of the direction Auckland was being led. Feedback included the wish for the council to get back to basics, stop the wastage and overspending, reduce regulations and compliance costs, and to keep a lid on senior executives’ salaries.