Auckland mayoral candidate Phil Goff says money the council could save under his leadership will be given back to staff.
He wants to introduce a living wage for employees of both the council and council controlled organisations (CCOs), paid for by the millions he expects to save in efficiencies.
"I think there are real economic benefits that help offset a higher wage bill. It's about reduced turnover, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and improvements in the quality of job applicants that we'll get."
Staff would be paid a minimum of $19.80 an hour. Mr Goff says rates will not be raised to get the money needed.
"Covering directly employed council and CCO staff is estimated to cost just over $4 million a year in additional wages," says Mr Goff.
Contractors not directly employed by the council or a CCO will miss out initially, but "consideration will be given later".
He acknowledges while he only has one vote on the council, councillors will be more likely to back the policy if they can be sure it won't mean rates increases.
"This ought to be a priority ahead of salary increases for senior staff earning higher incomes," says Mr Goff.
His closest opponent in the polls, Vic Crone, doesn't support the living wage campaign.
"I won't roll out the living wage for council. Council had a look at that a wee while ago and voted not to do it, so I support that."
Mr Goff, currently a Labour MP, has promised to keep rates increases to below 2.5 percent. Ms Crone wants them kept to 2 percent - but has also promised to fast-track a second crossing across the harbour.