NORTHCOTE: Does the North Shore have a rates problem?

Anne-Elise Smithson, Greens

I think the North Shore, and wider Auckland, has a housing problem in general.

Auckland house prices have risen 33 percent since 2011 and over 45 percent since National came to office, not only putting home ownership out of reach for many New Zealanders, but causing rates to spiral, and National is making the situation worse.

National should have a programme to build affordable houses – that would ease the price pressures and assist young New Zealanders into housing.

Damian Light, United Future

Definitely – all of Auckland does. Rates are meant to be an means to an end – they’re the way councils raise funds to provide services to the residents they serve. Unfortunately what’s happening is we’re seeing rates increases to try and pay for projects that the council has committed to without considering the costs. While not all of these issues are the new super cities fault, we were promised that things would be more efficient and result in cost savings. I think this is going to take a lot more time, which is what has happened elsewhere (so I’m not surprised). However, the council needs to be more open and honest about why the rates are increasing.

Just to make it clear – I don’t mind paying for rates and I don’t mind them going up. But it feels like the council was not expecting such a large increase, which concerns me.

I’m also concerned about people not being able to afford them, through no fault of their own. My neighbours have lived in their house for over 50 years. Because Beach Haven and the city has evolved, their rates have gone up, which seems reasonable. But as retired people, how long can they afford to live here? Is it fair that people in their situation being pushed out because the city is evolving? Is our rates system fair at all? We don’t want or get equal services from the council so should our rates be the same?

I think it’s time that we reviewed the rates system – is it doing what we want? Is there a better way? What about a regional tax system that’s income based – would that be fairer? I don’t have the answers, but as a ratepayer and resident, I sure have some questions!

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