Auckland rates jiggery pokery

Auckland ratepayers could excused for being bamboozled by their rates and taxes and levies.

Mayor Phil Goff is claiming he is fulfilling a promise to keep rates rises below 2.5%.

RNZ: Auckland ratepayers could face 6.2 percent hike

Mayor Phil Goff has unveiled an ambitious mix of new rates, revenue-shifting and even council asset sales to boost the spending on critical infrastructure.

Mr Goff has defended the proposed changes as being in line with his election pledge of keeping general rates rises at 2.5 percent.

“It’s exactly what I promised – I said to people right across the community I want to get rid of the interim transport levy that’s costing everybody regardless of how often you use the roads, and replace it with a regional fuel tax,” he said.

The rating cake has new layers, built on a basic general rate rise of 2.5 percent, as Mr Goff pledged in his election campaign. The 2.5 percent is proposed only for the next two years, then rises to 3.5 percent.

But it is not that simple.

An additional 2.8 percent would come in a water quality targeted rate, aimed at accelerating significantly some big infrastructure projects to clean waterways and beaches.

Another 0.9 percent is added by a natural environment levy to deal with threats such as kauri dieback, possums and weed infestations.

Those rises are partly offset by ending, as scheduled, the Interim Transport Levy of $114 on households and $183 on business.

For an average priced home around $1 million this will slice 4.8 percent off the higher rates, leaving an overall increase of 1.4 percent.

That percentage increase will rise progressively for homes valued higher than $1m, and decrease for cheaper homes.

However, that levy will then be replaced by a 10 cent-a-litre regional fuel tax, which the government has told RNZ should be in place in time for the council’s next budget mid-2018.

It seems that few if any ratepayers will pay less, or less than 2.5%, and some will pay disproportionately more.

An additional variable is the impact of recent property revaluations, which affect how big a share of the city’s rates burden is apportioned to each property.

Many lower-priced suburbs in the west and south already face higher than average rates rises because of that process, and extra costs could be imposed via the proposed 6.2 percent increase, and the cost of the fuel tax, if they cover high mileage.

There will be ‘consultation’:

Aucklanders will be asked their views during consultation early next year on the budget, but will struggle to get a clear picture of how they are directly affected.

It looks likely many will struggle to understand the convoluted changes, and some may have real trouble paying for the increases.

Just as well everyone will get tax relief which is legislated to take effect from next April – oh, hang on, the Government are scrapping that.

WO: political threats against Auckland councillor

This looks like political threats at Whale Oil against Auckland City councillor Denise Lee, under the name of ‘Cameron Slater’ in Will Denise Lee suffer at List Ranking?

National candidate for Maungakiekie Denise Lee surprised everyone in National when she voted for Phil Goff’s pillow tax.

Whale Oil may still speak for some in National with particular interests but nowhere near “everyone in National”.

This was despite a lot of lobbying from National Party Board Member Alastair Bell, who was trying to ensure National candidates actually followed party policy, and listened to him.

Obviously Denise failed to do either, so there are a lot of angry people in National who can’t believe National have a candidate who basically rolls over whenever anyone puts some pressure on her.

A very ironic claim about ‘anyone’ putting pressure on Lee.

This may be just posturing from WO, but if it is accurate I think it is alarming.

Lee is an Auckland City councillor, representing and acting for the people of Auckland.

She is also a National candidate, standing for an electorate and presumably also after a party list position.

There are a number of local body politicians standing in this year’s general election. They will need to campaign for their parties, but while they are still local body politicians they need to separately do their jobs there independently of their future aspirations.

It is alarming to see what looks to me like political blackmail – Lee voted differently to what Whale Oil/Slater/whoever wanted so they are attacking her and apparently threatening her chances on the National Party list selection.

I doubt that Slater actually has much if any input into the National Party list, especially given how much he criticises and attacks the party, the Prime Minister and other ministers and MPs.

The tipline has been running hot that Alastair Bell is furious because he has been made to look like a right fool by Denise, and his clients are very, very unhappy with him.

Without corroboration or specifics “tipline has been running hot” is WO hot air. My tipline is running hot that Slater is an arse.

Who are Alistair Bell’s clients and what do they have to do with this?

So now there is talk of a plan to give Denise a very low list position so she learns quickly that you cannot defy National Party policy and expect to get away with it, even if you are from the wet or Nikki Kaye wing of the National Party.

So now there is talk of a plan by shadowy political operatives using Whale Oil to publish barely veiled threats against a city councillor and national election candidate.

And they can’t resist dissing a successful National MP and minister in the process.

Let’s see how she copes when the rumoured third party campaign, funded by angry moteliers, gets underway against her.

This looks more like the ‘dirty politics’ part of Whale Oil in action, it certainly doesn’t look like journalism.

No supported facts, just ‘rumours’. Rumour mongering and Whale Oil are not strangers. Neither are dirty politics and Slater.

This Whale Oil post has tried to present itself as representing the views of “everyone in National” and “a lot of angry people in National”.

What it shows is that Whale Oil is still being used to target and threaten sitting local body politicians and general election candidates.

And it smells dirty. Not just against Denise Lee. This may also be deliberately trying to muddy National’s election campaign. WhaleOil/Slater has been showing signs of campaigning against National for some time, and dirtiness seems to be starting to kick in.

Auckland Council votes against deep sea drilling

The new Auckland City Council should have many important issues to deal with, like transport, housing, trying contain rampant rates rises.

But they took time out from council business yesterday to make a political statement.

NZ Herald: Auckland Council votes against deep sea oil drilling

Auckland councillors have voted 14-7 against deep-sea oil exploration off the west coast of the North Island.

At a governing body meeting today they said oil exploration could have a catastrophic effect on the coastal and ocean environment, and industries such as fishing and tourism.

The decision also referred to the “critically endangered Maui’s dolphin and other cetaceans living in the Tasman Sea” and to avoiding the “catastrophic impacts of climate change” and to achieving “the Paris goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels”.

Voting against an offer of oil exploration in the Government’s 2017 block offer, the councillors believed the overall economic benefit to Auckland of deep sea oil would be negligible.

“Rather than encourage further oil exploration, effort should instead be put into developing abundant clean energy opportunities and strategies that can create employment and replace polluting energy sources,” the amendment said.

So a city council is voting against a national Government matter.

I don’t think Auckland City has many suburbs in the deep sea. I don’t think they even have any special housing areas proposed for deep sea locations.

The encroachment of political activism into city administration seems to be a growing thing – unlike deep sea drilling which is hardly a pressing issue, around New Zealand it is on the back burner anyway.