Crone promises limit to rates rises

Auckland mayoral candidate Victoria Crone has pledged to limit rates rises to a maximum of 2% per year for the next three years (the latest increase under Len Brown’s council is 9.9%).

Crone announced this on her website: Getting the basics right for Auckland

Auckland Mayoral Candidate Vic Crone has announced her first set of policies, fiscally responsible commitments she says are fundamental basics of building a world class city.

The policies were jointly developed with Auckland Future and the announcement includes lifting council performance in four key areas: keeping residential rates low, cutting waste, reducing staff costs and controlling debt – essentials that council needs to get right.

“Last year ratepayers faced a 9.9 per cent average rates increase, for some it was a shocking 15 per cent. As Mayor I will cap average residential rates increases at 2 per cent per annum for the next three years,” says Ms Crone.

“If council isn’t being cost-effective, timely and smart with its spending, it’s downright outrageous to expect more from ratepayers.”

Vic Crone’s leadership will deliver at least $500 million in savings with a focus on reducing back-office waste, efficient procurement, cutting duplication and imposing a Mayor-led Line-Item Review programme.

As a start, Crone will reduce staff costs by 5-10 per cent over the next three years and cap staff numbers at current levels, saving up to $80 million.

“It’s concerning that every year for the last three years council has exceeded its staff cost budget line by over $50 million. I will put a stop to this trend while protecting frontline staff, core services and key capital investments.”

She says any additional operating surpluses will be prioritised toward paying down debt faster than forecast.

“I understand even with minor changes in interest rates, council could breach the 12 per cent interest payments to revenue cap under its current debt management strategy. I’ll ensure council is repaying debt above the current plan target and impose a review of this strategy to better protect Auckland’s interests,” Ms Crone says.

“I would like to acknowledge the Auckland Future candidates who worked together on developing this policy, and other centre-right Council candidates for their input.”

“Council can be a high-performing organisation that delivers real results for ratepayers and is ahead of the game. I have the strong leadership, fresh ideas and energy to get there and it starts by getting the basics in order.”

Link to Policy: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bxk_SbCo_sMkS3lNclpiV1R3cVU

It’s interesting that having been highly critical of Crone in a series of posts, including slamming her lack of policies, Whale Oil hasn’t posted on this policy announcement yet.

In contrast David Farrar posted at Kiwiblog: Some fiscal discipline for Auckland

So Victoria Crone and Auckland Future are pledging a maximum rates increase of 2% annually for the next three years.

Having rates go up massively end endlessly is a political choice. Len Brown and the current Council chose to increase rates by 9.9%.

This year Aucklanders should check out all candidates for Council and the Mayor, and ask if they have made a pledge on rates increases. If they won’t make a pledge, then don’t vote for them unless you want more further massive rates increases.

Pledging to limit rates rises is a start.

Actually limiting them when elected is a different matter, as Auckland has found out with Len Brown. NZ Herald in 2014:

Len Brown breaks election rates promise

Auckland Council’s budget committee has voted 16-7 for a proposal to increase rates by 3.5 per cent for each year of a new 10-year budget.

The proposal got the backing of Mayor Len Brown, who promised voters to hold rates at 2.5 per cent this term.

But as the Herald reported last July in Mayor Len Brown’s Auckland budget passes  the average household from last July was set at 9.9%.

Phil Goff’s website Mayor for a better Auckland is short on detail. His launch speech doesn’t mention any intent on rating levels and “A city that thrives on talent and enterprise – where talent and enterprise can thrive” is a confusing campaign sound bite.

John Palino’s Plan for Auckland is to reduce rates:

Auckland Council has increased rates far beyond the rate of inflation. Ratepayers have been treated as ATM machines that council can raid to fund any kind of spending. In the coming weeks and months John Palino will release fully costed, pragmatic policies designed to reduce Aucklanders’ rate burden.

John believes that Council needs to control spending. As mayor he will implement policies designed to prevent council from spending ratepayers money without regard to whether ratepayers can afford the spending.

Penny Bright seems to think that paying rates is voluntary, having not paid hers for several years.

Voters will have to judge the credibility and resolve of candidates on rates.

Leave a comment

43 Comments

  1. watchful waiting

     /  27th April 2016

    Pete George be careful, you’ll have Penny Bright spraying her drivel all over your blog soon.

    Reply
  2. Thank you Pete George for completely misrepresenting my position.

    I’m disputing and refusing to pay Auckland Council rates – because ‘the books’ are NOT open, and citizens and ratepayers are not being told exactly where public monies are being spent.

    If you don’t censor my comment(s) – I shall update you on my very clear recommendations for transparency in public rates spending on private sector consultants and contractors which I raised in person before the Local Government and Environment Select Committee, at Parliament on 7 April 2016.

    You see Pete George ‘activists – get things done’.

    Penny Bright
    2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  27th April 2016

      Do you refuse to use the things that rates are spent on ? Nobody likes paying them, but we all like the things that they pay for. Your attitude is sophistry unless you go both ways, and something tells me that you use the water mains, roads, rubbish service, public parks…

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  27th April 2016

        I hope that you don’t walk on the footpaths, or use a library or expect the council to control vicious dogs if you encounter these and do something about excessive noise.

        To refuse to pay rates but expect to use the services that everyone else’s rates pay for would be the height of meanness.

        Reply
      • Ordinary use of public roads and parks is a natural right and is not conditional on the payment of rates. The rating system is fraudulent since it assumes an obligation in cases where there is no delivery of service.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  27th April 2016

          It’s not a natural right at all. These things have to be paid for by someone-how do you think that they’re built and maintained ? That comes from rates. I hate paying rates as much as the next person, but I expect to have water come out of a tap and there to be a pavement outside and my street to be fit to drive on and have street lights so that I can see where I’m going and I expect to have my sewage to be flushed away and not buried by me in a long drop…

          It’s incredibly mean to make excuses not to pay rates and take advantage of the fact that everyone else does, so that one can use all the things that everybody else pays for. It’s like saying that you won’t pay for groceries sold by the big chains and putting items in other people’s trollies so that they pay for yours as well as their own-you take your things out after the person who’s paid for them has been through the checkout. Thus YOU haven’t supported the big chains like Pak & Save.

          Reply
        • Gezza

           /  27th April 2016

          Who should build and maintain the public roads Uggers, and who should pay for them?

          Reply
          • People hired by a trust which levies licenced road users. I guess the question then becomes: how should the democratic process should be applied in this case?

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  27th April 2016

              Ok, so we all have to pay a levy to drive on the roads. That’ll have me reaching for my shotgun. What if you ride a bus?

              Who pays for the footpaths, and the maintenance of parklands and public amenities? How’s that to be done?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  27th April 2016

              By charging a levy to walkers, I suppose 😀 Turnstiles on every street to be installed so that nobody has a free walk.

              Bus users will pay the levy directly to the company; it’ll mean a rise in fares, of course.

            • Gezza

               /  27th April 2016

              Now I’m loading the shotgun … 😎

            • Ok, so we all have to pay a levy to drive on the roads. That’ll have me reaching for my shotgun.

              No, ordinary use is a right so licensing ordinary use would be fraudulent.

            • Gezza

               /  27th April 2016

              Never mind Uggers. Think I’ll leave it at that mate.

            • Gezza

               /  27th April 2016

              Appreciate the exposure but would you mind loading that comment just above in to “Nameless” as well?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  27th April 2016

              Don’t read the Blackstone, Gezza, unless you have nothing better to do. I sincerely hope for your sake that this is not the case.

    • alloytoo

       /  27th April 2016

      Have you placed your outstanding rates money in a lawyers trust account to ensure there is no conflict if interest in the forthcoming mayoral campaign.

      In the interests of transparency can you provide a letter from said lawyer confirming that.

      How can you continue to use the title “Publicwatchdog” without a mandate from the public? (when in fact you have been repeatedly denied a mandate at national and local level)

      Don’t you think it’s dishonest to continue to use a title which suggest conferred authority when no such authority has been conferred?

      Alloytoo
      also not a Mayoral candidate anywhere in 2016.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  27th April 2016

        I hadn’t even thought of that point, Alloy-it should have been obvious, but wasn’t to me :-/ Thank you. Penny Bright will, no doubt, indignantly refute the idea that she has not done this.

        I can’t believe that I was too dim to work this out for myself-thanks again.

        The title Public Watchdog is meaningless, anyone can call themselves that. My Maltese terrier thinks that he’s one, making sure that anyone who walks down the street knows that the XXXXXX Rd Watchdog is indeed on the watch and knows that they’re there. His idea of his own importance has as much substance as Penny Bright’s.

        Kitty Catkin
        Not a Mayoral Candidate anywhere in 2016 or any other year

        and

        Maltese Terrier Catkin
        Public Watchdog and Street Security Advisor

        Reply
    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  27th April 2016

      Penny: You see Pete George ‘activists – get things done’.

      Tell that to the Green party who are forever the bridesmaid………

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  27th April 2016

        Why am I always the bridesmaid/Never the blushing bride ?

        Or ‘Why am I always the also-ran/Never the blushing government ?’

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  27th April 2016

          My activist Maltese hasn’t succeeded in stopping people walking down the street-but he’s working on it.

          Reply
  3. jamie

     /  27th April 2016

    “Pledging to limit rates rises is a start. Actually limiting them when elected is a different matter”

    All you need to do is let services and infrastructure degrade over your term, then let the next mayor raise the rates to fix it.

    Simple 😀

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  27th April 2016

      Smack yourself on your hand, you nasty cynic ! 😀 😀 😀

      Reply
    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  27th April 2016

      Jamie: “All you need to do is let services and infrastructure degrade over your term, then let the next mayor raise the rates to fix it”.

      Or do as Len Brown has done and let services and infrastructure degrade over your term AND raise rates to super high levels.

      If people realised the real state of the City they would be shocked………

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  27th April 2016

        I can’t comment on the infrastrucure, water mains, sewers etc, of course, but it seems that Miss Crone is taking it for granted that none of these will need urgent, unforeseen attention in the near future. Never again will I take having water completely for granted since various things happened in my town a year or two ago and we had water outages. Thank goodness we had a lot of water stored in 3 litre bottles after a similar thing happened some years before. I discovered how little water one can have an all-over wash in when it’s that or go dirty again.

        Reply
      • jamie

         /  27th April 2016

        “If people realised the real state of the City they would be shocked”

        If you realised how long it has been going on for you might be shocked too.

        Reply
        • Brown

           /  27th April 2016

          Good point. I get annoyed when people like Kitty insist we pay for stuff without seeing how the costs are accounted for. Paying $100 for a $50 item is just dumb but local govts do it all the time because they are not accountable.
          Rates could be far less than they are without you noticing anything amiss. Of course staff would be annoyed but I don’t see councils as a welfare extension for useless people.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  27th April 2016

            That is plain silly-why on earth would a council make a present to some retailer of double the asking price ? These nails are $50 a box, but we’ll pay $100. Great idea-how about $150 while we’re at it ?Councils don’t do that sort of thing. Anyone can attend a council meeting, I have been to a reasonable number. Councils are not completely unaccountable, contrary to what you seem to think.

            Rates could be lower-if the services were lower as well.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  27th April 2016

              What services would you drop or lower?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  27th April 2016

              Oh, non-essentials like roads, water, rubbish collection and sewage…things like that. If we did without all the things that councils do, we wouldn’t have to pay rates at all. Or were you asking Brown ?

              I don’t know where the idea that councils aren’t accountable to anyone comes from. I would think that any council that blithely paid twice the asking price for things would soon have a ‘please explain’ sent to it.

            • jamie

               /  27th April 2016

              Kitty, there’s an old saying “no-one ever went broke supplying the government”.

              Big institutions spending money on behalf of other people tend to have a certain amount of inefficiency built in (or built up).

            • jamie

               /  27th April 2016

              “I don’t know where the idea that councils aren’t accountable to anyone comes from.”

              From anyone who has ever tried to get a straight answer from them.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  27th April 2016

              They are, I think, accountable to central government. One can always vote them out next time (the councillors, I mean)

              Our council is pretty good about giving answers.

              Try getting a straight answer from an English company dealing with shares, as I have been trying to do. It’s like pulling teeth. I hear that this is a not uncommon response.

  4. Pantsdownbrown

     /  27th April 2016

    Jamie: “If people realised the real state of the City they would be shocked” “If you realised how long it has been going on for you might be shocked too”.

    The super city hasn’t been going long for all – if you are referring to the old councils then some of those were far better off/ in better shape then they are now under the super city.

    Reply
    • jamie

       /  27th April 2016

      Some of them were in many ways, yes. Some of the infrastructure in what was Ak City was run down for a long time before amalgamation thanks to certain former mayors and their promises to run the city with no rate rises.

      Reply

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