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Saturday, 1 November 2008

THAMES-COROMANDEL IS NOT THE RATES-MONSTER

If the Local Government Commission (LGC) moves the islands from Auckland City Council and Auckland Regional Council to Thames-Coromandel District Council and Environment Waikato, the rates must not go into outer-space (mine included), so the Reorganisation Proposal has been written to prevent that (see http://waihekenotes.blogspot.com/2008/04/draft-reorganisation-proposal-for.html).

But some islanders know people in Thames who pay much higher rates, and they think we would get the same. Not so. On the peninsula they have local rates and district rates. Local rates are developed by the community boards, after community consultation, and reflect what the communities want. Ones that wanted reticulated wastewater and water systems got them and pay for them. That makes a huge difference, but we wouldn't have those charges.

Comparing ACC+ARC rates with TCDC+EW for the average Waiheke property, shows about $200 in TCDC's favour: $1618 instead of $1813. But a fair chunk of the rates would be under the community board's control, after community consultation, and because there would be a financial firewall between the peninsula and the islands, plus a 23.2% ceiling on shared administrative costs, a minimum of $1.2 million would be knocked off our expenditure. Other savings mean that we would have much more money available even if the rates were the same.

Added to that is the fact that this financial year (2008-2009), for properties with neither wastewater nor water reticulation, Thames-Coromandel raised rates by only 2.08%. For 2007-2008 it lowered them 8.98%. So over the last two years they had a net drop of 7.09%. Auckland's overall average rise last year was 3.6% and this year was 5.1%, a net rise of 8.88%. But for Waiheke alone the rises were 5.4% and 6.0%, a net rise of 11.17%. Great Barrier rose 6.1% and 9.1%, a net rise of 11.58%.

Islanders can therefore expect to be better off overall if the LGC moves us.

On top of that, under the Reorganisation Proposal rates are not to rise in the first year if the LGC moves us, then by no more than the change in the consumer-price index (CPI), unless the community wants a bigger change to pay for some project.