Auckland councillors angry about Mayor's suggestion of possible 22.5pct rates rise

Auckland Councillors have reacted angrily to their Mayor's suggestion rates could rise 22.5 percent.

They're saying the headline-grabbing declaration was made to try and get councillors behind plans to slash services or sell Auckland Airport shares.

But not everyone's on board.

Mayor Wayne Brown had promised to "fix Auckland," and he's firing councillors up in the process.

"It's scaremongering: 'Wow, look, this is what you might be getting'. No, you won't be getting that," said Manukau Councillor Alf Filipaina.

Filipaina is responding to Mayor Brown and his warning of a $375 million hole in Auckland's Budget.

Manukau Ward Councillor Alf Filipaina.
Manukau Ward Councillor Alf Filipaina. Photo credit: Newshub.

He said covering the deficit via rates rises alone would result in an average increase of 22.5 percent.

"We haven't discussed it, we haven't discussed the 22.5, none of us will ever entertain [it]," Filipaina told Newshub.

Auckland Council's Finance Committee boss Maurice Williamson told Newshub a 22.5 percent rates hike represents a last resort.

"That's what it would be if we didn't press any of the other levers, there are a multitude of levers available to the Council. Some of it will be cutting costs, some of it will be taking on some more debt, some of it will be the sale of airport shares," he said.

Howick Ward Councillor Maurice Williamson.
Howick Ward Councillor Maurice Williamson. Photo credit: Getty Images.

But Williamson sent mixed messages as to whether such a rise would actually happen.

"We're never going to do that, I can tell you."

He then added: "I retract that, I shouldn't have said nothing is ever going to, or not, happen because 20 councillors, we don't have a whipping system, we can't make them vote in a particular direction."

But there's a catch because Auckland Council has already consulted on a maximum rates rise of up to 13.5 percent.

Still, Williamson on Thursday claimed the Council could change that.

"As long as we've consulted in good faith, as long as we have to by law produce a balanced budget," Williamson told Newshub.

Except, on Thursday afternoon an Auckland Council spokesperson told Newshub that's not the case and councillors are bound by that maximum increase of 13.5 percent.

"It should never have been put out there," said Filipaina.

Councillors are aware they need to make unpleasant cuts somewhere - they're just not enjoying being backed into a corner.