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Saturday, 23 February 2008

GREAT BARRIER RATES AND AUCKLAND RATES

Auckland City Council's total income for 2006/2007 was $552 million. Its population in 2006 was 404.658. That makes the average income for every man, woman and child $1364.

Great Barrier had a population of 852 on census night 2006, and the rates are reported to have been $1.2 million. That makes an average per head of $1408. But the effective average is higher because the permanent population is lower than the census figure. Worse, the fact that Great Barrier has nothing like the services that Auckland City has on the mainland, such as wastewater and water reticulation and a comprehensive rubbish-collection, means that the figure is far higher in real terms.

Per head of population, Great Barrier pays its way.

Worked out as an average per property, again using the figure of $1.2 million given by Paul Downie (and assuming it to be correct), and using the figure of 1418 properties supplied by Quotable Value, the average is $846. It is impossible to work out a comparable figure for Auckland, because the figures are skewed by large chunks of industrial and commercial real-estate. The closest comparison has to be with Waiheke, where the average rates per property is $1624, or on Thames-Coromandel where the average is $1541.

But that definitely does not mean that Great Barrier's rates would soar to either figure if the islands were under the Thames-Coromandel District Council. The total rates-take need not change at all, unless Great Barrier's people, working through their community board, wanted it to. It would be their decision. And because so much of the rates under TCDC are based on improved value the rates load should be spread much more fairly. The rich should pay more; low- and middle-income brackets should not be hit so hard.

A long-term permanent resident on Great Barrier says that of the 1418 properties, only about 400 are permanently occupied. The other 1000 sit empty for most the year. Those figures were confirmed by the Department of Statistics, which found only 453 dwellings occupied on census night (7/3/2008). The preliminary draft reorganisation proposal, which is still being worked on and run past the TCDC, attempts to address that problem by including a higher rate where the postal address does not match the residential address and is not on the island. That it seems to me to be a very fair way of ensuring that those who do not contribute to the local economy but are a cost on it, compensate it by contributing with higher rates.